Investigations and diagnosis

At the clinic you will have an examination of the suspected skin cancer, you may also have:

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

Following a skin cancer diagnosis most patients will not require further investigations. In some cases further tests may need to be carried 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.  The grade of a cancer gives an idea of how quickly the cancer may grow.

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 Nurse Specialists provide information, advice, education and support to people attending the clinic. They 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 talk about your diagnosis and all aspects of care.

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