Should I see a Skin Cancer Doctor, GP or dermatologist for my skin cancer check?

Often, patients ask us what is the difference between coming to see our Skin Cancer Doctors for a skin cancer check rather than a GP or dermatologist. In this short video, Dr Hamilton Ayres explains how a skin check with each of these medical professionals might differ, and what might be best for you.

For Skin Cancer Doctors, their daily practice is dedicated exclusively to detecting and treating skin cancers. Skin cancer medicine is their subspeciality and their clinics are set up specifically for that function, including operating theatres and state-of-the-art technology geared towards finding and/or monitoring all types of skin cancer.

Seeing a Skin Cancer Doctor for your skin cancer check is beneficial because the doctors are all specially qualified and experienced in the area, and you have the opportunity to receive advice on skin cancer prevention and early detection during your skin check.

If the doctor finds a lesion of concern, the facilities are already in place to perform a biopsy, treatment and aftercare all under the one roof, so you get fast and effective care.

Dermatologists are general skin specialists, meaning they are skilled and experienced in dealing with a range of skin conditions, including skin cancer. Wait lists to see a specialist dermatologist are up to one year in Australia, and even longer in rural areas, and this can be an expensive option for skin cancer checks and treatment. You will also require a referral from your GP to see a specialist.

Did you know? Australia has only 550 dermatologists.

If you do see a dermatologist, rest assured they are educated and skilled in skin cancer diagnosis and can also help you achieve good cosmetic outcomes post-surgery.

If you see a GP for a skin cancer check, you may find they only have time to perform a spot check (rather than the full-body skin examination recommended for all Australians once a year).

A skin check with a GP will often not be a streamlined process (as GPs are generalists rather than subspecialists) and you may be referred on to another doctor if you require treatment.

GPs are time-limited and sometimes lack the training to diagnose skin cancer in general practice, so it is important to find a GP who is fully trained and certified in the area before you see them for your skin cancer concerns.

Watch the full video with Dr Hamilton Ayres below:



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Written by National Skin Cancer Centres