How to Choose a dermatology-skin cancer clinic

Don’t go for second best! 

  • Choosing the right skin clinic is extremely difficult,  if not impossible for the  vulnerable  sick and scared lay person. When every clinic would proclaim that their staff are super supreme, how do you know  what to order?
  • WOM is best.  Ask your doctor, your friends or neighbours.
  • All skin doctors/dermatologists are not created equal.  If you have a specific skin type or skin concern, make sure to ask if the clinic can confidently deal with that particular treatment. The ethical one will tell you the truth and to the point.  
  • Remember a 4 year of paid training does not  give the skin cancer doctor/dermatologist the skills/expertise  to do everything! and even then not all know how to hold a scalpel properlyThis is not a TV show. Just ring and ask. The ethical receptionist will often guide you. The best receptionist will tell you straight if the doctor was no good ( but will probably get the sack 🙂
  • Generally ” Excellent diagnostic and surgical skill are strong predictors of successful outcomes and associated with lower rates of re-operation, re-admission, and return visits.
  • Doctors who are dexterous and skillful with hand-eye-coordination have lower complication rate. e.g- bleeding,  poor wound healing etc…
  • As a general rule newly graduated doctors/specialists tend to biopsy and order more pathology tests before embarking on treatment. As their clinical skill improves your diagnostic and treatment journey may be less convoluted and costly.
  • If you have a surgical skin problem – Choose a SURGICAL  doctor.
  • If you have a bad skin rash  or small cancer- Choose a MEDICAL  doctor. e.g. If you have cystic acne or severe eczema – you could see a general dermatologist.
  • If you have a thick melanomaREMEMBER – dermatologists-skin doctors/cosmetic surgeons generally DO NOT operate on thick melanoma.  If you have a melanoma needing surgery and its > ~ 1mm thick – you may need a referral to a SURGICAL ONCOLOGIST (  this is usually a surgeon –  with  training and extended experience in melanoma surgery. They are usually attached to the big teaching hospitals. They treat and review hundreds of patients each year . You will be in good hands. The doctors we refer to are humble and knowledgeable.

Consider the following when choosing a skin – dermatology clinic.

  • Relevance & appropriateness of experience. e.g, Don’t just go hair/nail clinic for a cancer on you nose. You might just waste your time.
  • Quality,Dexterity and Skill-fullness of the doctor is very important, particularly cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face and difficult to heal areas, like the leg. So the more case load the doctor has the better!
  • Broad range of available treatment options. Remember NOT ALL skin cancers need to be excised and stitched. A 2 mm basal cell carcinoma may only need a simple curettage or freezing NOT  a $750 light therapy (  which will only give you ~80 % cure rate). $6 Aldara  would often give a better out come !

Who requires a skin check?

  • Everyone at risk should have an annual skin check due to the Australian climate.
  • Anyone with fair skin with lots of moles, freckles and/or family history of skin cancer
  • Anyone with a history of sun burn and a past or family history of skin cancer
  • Anyone with persistent rash or changed skin lesion especially if it has bled

What don’t we do?

  • Try to scare you
  • place skin graft on puny skin cancer on your leg.
  • We do not do routine removal of non-threatening or non- dangerous moles for preventative care, unless you personally request removal for cosmetic/personal reasons.