Diagnosis & treatment of skin cancer

Who to see

General practitioner (GP)

Cancer Council Victoria recommends seeing your GP as your first port of call for a suspicious spot. 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 specialises in treating and diagnosing all conditions relating to the skin, hair and nails. After becoming a doctor, they undertake several years of additional training. You need a referral from your GP to see a dermatologist.

What does a dermatologist do?

Skin cancer clinics

Some people may choose to attend a skin clinic rather than visit a doctor.

Cancer Council Victoria does not operate or endorse any skin cancer clinics. Research shows skin cancer clinics may not necessarily offer a higher level of expertise than your family doctor. Most are run by GPs. Before deciding whether to go to a skin clinic, it is important you find out about the services offered and the expertise of the employees.


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 doctor or you might be referred to a dermatologist or surgeon. Results may take about a week to come through.

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

How skin cancer is 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 include:

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

Cancer Council Victoria provides a range of free information and support services to help you manage the impact of cancer. Find out more.

For an overview of what to expect during all stages of your cancer care, visit:

These are short guides to what is recommended, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

I didn't think young people got skin cancer.