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Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. Non-melanoma skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), refers to a group of cancers that develop in the upper layers of the skin. Melanoma skin cancer is less common, but can be more serious, as it can spread to other organs in the body.

Precancerous lesions such as solar keratosis are extremely common in areas of skin that have been exposed to large amounts of sunlight such as the head and neck. These can be treated by your own GP and do not usually require referral to the dermatology department.

We provide the best possible care for patients who are diagnosed with skin cancer. We provide support, information, counselling and education to you and your relatives and carers throughout treatment.

What we do

Your GP will refer you to us if they suspect you have skin cancer. One of our specialists will examine the area of skin in question,  and may also need to look at other areas of your skin. Usually we will be able to make a diagnosis and discuss treatment options at this stage, but sometimes will recommend a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. A skin biopsy involves the removal of a small sample of the affected skin under local anaesthetic for it to be examined under the microscope.

In some (or many) cases, the whole of the suspicious lesion will be surgically removed and sent to the laboratory for microscopic examination.


Surgery is the main treatment for skin cancer. If surgery is recommended for you, you will usually be placed on a waiting list to have this done in our department on another day. If the treatment is deemed urgent, the surgery may be carried out on the same day as your clinic appointment.

Some non-melanoma skin cancers may be suitable for alternative treatments, include freezing (cryotherapy), anti-cancer creams, radiotherapy and a form of light treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT). The treatment used will depend on the type, size and location of the skin cancer you have, and we will discuss options in detail with you.

Melanoma treatment is usually a two stage process: firstly the suspicious mole is removed for the precise diagnosis to be made (this result may take up to 4 weeks), then there is usually a second stage (wide local excision), in which a larger area of skin is removed from around the scar to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. Further investigations such as scans or biopsy of lymph nodes may be recommended, depending on the exact nature of the melanoma.

  • Consultants
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Cancer Support Worker

  • Skin Cancer Support Worker (CSW): 07824561668
  • Skin Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): 07824561668
  • Dermatology Secretaries: 01524 583165
  • Macmillan Cancer Information Support Service (MCISS): 01524 519578
  • Dermatology Appointment Line: 01524 511966