Understand what each medical professional can offer, compare your options, and find out which one is right for you.
General Practitioner (GP)
GPs can perform skin checks as part of a regular checkup if you are concerned about any moles or changes on your skin. If possible, go to your regular GP who is familiar with your personal and family histories, as these are important to assess your risk factors.
GPs can treat some skin cancers within their clinic, or they might refer you to a Dermatologist (specialist skin doctor).
Cost: No out of pocket cost for bulk billed GPs; gap payment for private billing GPs.
Skin Cancer Clinics
Skin Cancer Clinics are usually operated by GPs and therefore have the same level of training as a GP, but their focus is on skin cancer. Consultations may be more expensive that a regular GP visit, as skin clinics tend to offer specialist equipment for examining skin spots.
Skin Cancer Clinics can generally treat a larger range of lesions than GP clinics, so you may be treated at the clinic, or referred to a dermatologist.
Cost: No out of pocket cost for bulk billed clinics; gap payment for private billing clinics.
For a second opinion, or for people at high risk of melanoma, a referral to see a dermatologist is recommended. Dermatologists are doctors who have completed additional training to specialise in diagnosing and treating skin disease, including skin cancers.
Dermatologists are more likely to be able to make a diagnosis on the spot without the need for a biopsy. If you have a mole in a cosmetically important point, and you would rather not have a biopsy that is going to leave a scar, than it might be better to see a dermatologist for an assessment.
Cost: Consultations with a dermatologist are only covered by Medicare if you have a referral letter from your GP or skin clinic, so make sure to do that first. Dermatologists may also charge a gap payment in addition to the Medicare fee.
I had a mole removed, what happens next?
Once your GP or dermatologist removes one mole, they should do a full skin check and examine you from head to toe to check for any other lesions and, based on their findings, make a risk assessment and develop a follow up program tailored to you. Determining your risk factor for skin cancer is a combination of multiple factors, so seeing your doctor will give them the best opportunity to make a plan specifically designed for you.