Investigations and diagnosis

As well as an examination of the suspected skin cancer, at the clinic you may also have:

  • an examination of all your skin
  • examination with a dermatoscope (a handheld microscope for examining skin)
  • photographs
  • a discussion about sun protection measures
  • a biopsy or be referred for a biopsy

Following a skin cancer diagnosis most patients will not require further investigations. In some cases further tests may need to be carries out to determine if the cancer cells have spread beyond the skin to the nearby lymph nodes or other organs. These investigations may also assist in the planning of any further treatment required.

Staging and grading of skin cancer

Your skin specialist needs certain information about the cancer to decide on the most appropriate treatment for you. This includes the stage and grade of the cancer. The stage of a cancer describes its size, position and whether it has spread beyond the area of the body where it started.

For more information on staging and grading of each skin cancer, visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website.


Your biopsy and / or investigations may be discussed at a skin cancer multi-disciplinary meeting. The team will review all aspects of your care and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. A member of the team will discuss this with you.

Skin Cancer Nurse Specialists

Skin Cancer Specialist Nurses provide information, advice, education and support to people attending the clinic. The Skin Cancer Nurse Specialist will spend as much time with you as you wish and will talk about your treatment and / or surgery. For patients with a diagnosis of skin cancer the specialist nurse can also play a vital role and provide specialist support as a ‘key worker’. They will give you time to ask questions and to talk to you about how your diagnosis is affecting you. This specialist care is provided from the moment of referral and continues throughout all aspects of care.

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