You’re performing an at-home skin examination and have detected a suspicious mole or spot on your skin. Perhaps that old mole on your arm has changed shape and is now making you pause. What’s your next step?
Some questions you might consider are, “Where can I get my skin checked? Should I go to my GP? Should I see a specialist? Or should I go to a skin cancer detection clinic?”
You want to take every possible precaution to ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance at detection and treatment.
In Australia, the first point of contact is often a General Practitioner (GP). If needed a GP may refer you to a dermatologist. There are also skin cancer clinics run by GPs, and melanoma and skin cancer detection and diagnosis clinics like MoleMap.
If you notice a suspicious spot on your skin, most people see their General Practitioner, who is your family physician. As somebody who knows your health history, your GP can inform you if you are at high risk of skin cancer and your options for skin checks.
Skin cancer and melanoma are common in Australia, so GPs are familiar with dealing with these health concerns. They can conduct skin examinations and teach you how to conduct self-examinations at home. Many are able to provide treatment (once diagnosed) and ongoing management of some skin cancers.
GPs in Australia are considered gatekeepers to specialist services, so if you need a second opinion or if the GP suspects melanoma or skin cancer, they will refer you to a dermatologist, who can look at the spot or mole more closely. Or they may refer you to skin cancer detection specialists like MoleMap for a skin check or full body molemap and ongoing surveillance.
After seeing a GP, they may provide a formal referral to a dermatologist for further investigation. The waiting time to get into a dermatologist may be longer than the waiting time to see a skin cancer clinic (no referral needed and usually run by GPs who have special training in skin cancer), or a melanographer at a skin cancer detection clinic like at MoleMap (no referral needed) where the diagnosis is made by a dermatologist via telemedicine.
The approach will vary depending on your needs whether you see a dermatologist, a skin cancer clinic or a skin cancer detection clinic. Before you book the appointment, enquire about fees and waiting times.
A dermatologist is a specialist that that is an expert in skin and the diseases and problems of the skin, hair, and nails. They’ve undertaken specialist training in skin including skin cancer detection and treatment.
Both your GP and dermatologist play vital roles in evaluating your skin, making recommendations, and treating the problem.
If your GP or dermatologist deemed you are a high-risk patient, they may refer you for a a full body mole map and melanoma diagnosis and surveillance at a skin cancer detection clinic like MoleMap.
Skin Cancer Clinics
Skin cancer clinics are likened to one-stop shops as they are convenient for patients and easy to get an appointment. They offer many services in one place, including initial consultation, biopsies, and removal of suspect spots. Clinics are usually run by GPs with a special interest and extra training in skin cancer.
If you’re considering to visit a skin cancer clinic run by GPs, it’s important to choose one that suits your needs. Here are some questions to help you decide.
- What is the qualification of the person assessing and diagnosing my spots?
- What technology do they use to check and diagnose my spots? What types of imaging do they take of my spots? Do they monitor changes in my spots over time?
- How much does the skin check appointment and diagnosis cost? Is there a fee for me to come back if a mole needs to be cut out? How much does it cost to cut out each mole?
You can also visit a different kind of clinic, one where your appointment is with a melanographer and your spots are diagnosed by dermatologists.
Melanoma Detection and Diagnosis Clinics
All MoleMap clinics are run by melanographers who are registered nurses with specialised training in the early detection of melanoma and other skin cancers. Your spots are reviewed and diagnosed by a dermatologists after your appointment – via telemedicine.
The melanographer conducts a thorough head-to-toe skin check using a dermatoscope to assess suspicious moles or lesions. The melanographer takes images of the internal structure of your moles. Once the test is complete, the melanographer then securely sends the images to experienced dermatologists for expert diagnosis and reporting.
But what truly sets MoleMap apart is the advanced technology they’ve pioneered to detect and diagnose early stage melanoma. In fact, since 1997, they have been the global leaders in scanning and diagnosing melanoma and skin cancer.
This state-of-the-art technology is comprised of three main parts:
- Thorough skin check. They use a handheld dermatoscope to perform a thorough head-to-toe skin check. The dermatoscope allows them to see the intricate structures of your moles and note any suspicious features.
- Dermoscopic (subsurface) and clinical imaging. This specially designed MoleMap camera sees into the internal structure of your moles past what the naked eye is capable of. We also take clinical images to see where each spot is located on your body.
- Total body photography. For a Full Body MoleMap, this creates a complete record of your skin’s surface and takes note of each individual mole. It provides a solid baseline for identifying and monitoring any potential future changes in your moles over time.
- The use of this state-of-the-art technology is accurate and may save you the cost of having unnecessary moles removed.
If you have risk factors for melanoma and/or skin cancer or if you have a suspect spot, you should see your GP who may provide an assessment for you or refer you to a specialist dermatologist.
In addition, you can self-refer to a skin cancer clinic which is run by GPs with a special interest in and extra training in skin cancer. They can usually provide treatment like having a mole removed.
You can also self-refer to a melanoma and specialist skin cancer detection and diagnosis clinic like MoleMap. Here you will be seen by a melanographer and your spots will be diagnosed by a dermatologist via telemedicine. If you choose a Full Body MoleMap your spots will be monitored over time for early detection of melanoma – when it’s most treatable.