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Skin Cancer Explained

GP, dermatologist, or skin cancer clinic: Where to get your skin checked?

If you're worried about a possible skin cancer, where do you go next?
MoleMap Team
March 4, 2022
6 minutes

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.

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Gen­er­al Practitioners

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 mole check and ongo­ing surveillance.

Der­ma­tol­o­gists

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 detec­tion clin­ic or a skin can­cer clin­ic near you. 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 full body MoleMap and melanoma diag­no­sis and sur­veil­lance at a skin can­cer detec­tion clin­ic like MoleMap.

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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.

  1. What is the qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the per­son assess­ing and diag­nos­ing my spots?
  2. 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?
  3. How much does the skin can­cer 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 mole check, 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.

Con­clu­sion

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.

Are you sus­cep­ti­ble to skin can­cer? Use our free online assess­ment tool to deter­mine your risk.

MoleMap Team

At MoleMap we check, detect and treat skin cancer. Find out how you can protect your skin at your nearest MoleMap skin cancer clinic.

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