Diagnosis & treatment of skin cancer

How are skin cancers diagnosed?

Skin cancer is diagnosed by physical examination and biopsy.

A biopsy is a quick and simple procedure where part or all of the spot is removed and sent to a laboratory. It may be done by your GP or you might be referred to a dermatologist or surgeon.

In some cases, your biopsy may remove all of your skin cancer and you may not require further treatment.

How are skin cancers treated

In choosing the best treatment option, your doctor will consider your age and general health, the type and size of cancer, where it is on your body and what you want. The treatment choice will also depend on whether the skin cancer has spread elsewhere in your body.

Types of further treatment

  • surgery
  • freezing
  • scraping
  • radiotherapy
  • removing lymph nodes
  • immunotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • chemotherapy

Who to see for a skin cancer diagnosis

General practitioner (GP)

As soon as you spot anything unusual or different, see your GP. Your GP can help ensure your personal medical history is taken into account if treatment or a referral is required. If there is any cause for concern, your GP will refer you to a dermatologist or surgeon for further investigation.


A dermatologist is a doctor who diagnoses, treats and manages skin conditions and skin cancer. They perform surgery, cryotherapy and prescribe topical treatments. You need a referral from your GP to see a dermatologist.

Skin cancer clinics

Skin clinics are usually run by GPs with an interest in skin cancer but may not necessarily offer a higher level of expertise than your GP. Before going, make sure you find out about the services offered and expertise of employees.

Links and downloads

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