Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Just diagnosed with skin cancer

3-minute read

If diagnosed and treated early, more than 90% of melanoma cases can be successfully treated with surgery.

If melanoma is diagnosed at an early stage then the main treatment is surgery, although your treatment will depend on your circumstances.

If non-melanoma skin cancer is suspected, your doctor should be able to confirm the diagnosis by carrying out a physical examination. They will probably also do a biopsy.

The outlook for non-melanoma skin cancer is usually very good. Unlike most other types of cancer, there is a considerably lower risk that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body (known as 'metastasis').

Sometimes, skin cancer can be diagnosed and treated at the same time. In other words, the tumour can be removed and tested and you may not need any further treatment because the cancer is unlikely to spread.

Living with skin cancer

Almost all types of skin cancer — melanoma and non-melanoma — are caused by exposure to UV radiation, from the sun’s rays or other sources such as sunlamps.

The chance of your melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer returning is higher if your previous cancer was particularly widespread and advanced. You can reduce your chances of developing skin cancer either, by avoiding overexposure to ultra-violet (UV) light, using sunscreen and dressing sensibly, avoiding sunbeds and regularly checking your skin for signs of melanoma and other skin cancers.

If you have been diagnosed with melanoma, you may find it helpful to bring these questions to your next doctor’s visit, so you can organise your life and access any help you may need:

  • Do you know what stage of melanoma I have? What is the size, in millimetres, of the melanoma? What is the depth of the melanoma?
  • Was the biopsy surgery able to remove all of the cancer? Do I need additional surgery?
  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back?
  • Will I need additional tests or procedures to confirm the stage of my melanoma?
  • Will I need additional surgery?
  • Should I have another type(s) of treatment following surgery?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What are the goals of this treatment?
  • What is my prognosis if I follow this treatment plan?
  • What follow-up care is necessary?
  • How frequently should I follow up with you for a skin cancer screening?
  • What steps can I take to reduce my risk of developing another melanoma?
  • What is the risk of my family members developing melanoma?

Your doctor or specialist will be able to answer your questions and advise you on managing your skin cancer.

Support groups

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

ACD A-Z of Skin - Skin Cancer – An Overview

Australia reports the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Check for signs of skin cancer | Cancer Council

Is it a mole or is it skin cancer? Learn how to check yourself for skin cancers and recognise signs of melanoma and other types of skin cancer

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Skin Cancer & Melanoma Treatment - Targeting Cancer

Learn more about skin cancer and the different treatment options available.

Read more on Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer website

Melanoma: Overview | Cancer Council Victoria

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. There are three main types of skin cancer that are named after the cells that are affected: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and melanoma.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Skin cancer | Cancer Council

What is the difference between a melanoma and skin cancer? Learn how to check your skin for symptoms, how they are diagnosed and treated here

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Types of skin cancer - SunSmart

There are three main types of skin cancer – melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Skin cancer facts & stats - SunSmart

SunSmart's most often quoted skin cancer and melanoma statistics, facts and research findings with references provided.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Understanding skin cancer - Cancer Institute NSW

What the skin does, what skin cancer and melanoma are, and what the role of ultraviolet radiation is.

Read more on NSW Health website

Looking for skin cancer: Identifying suspicious moles information | myVMC

How to examine your body for skin cancer symptoms including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Includes skin cancer pictures.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

What is melanoma? - Cancer Institute NSW

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer - it can easily spread to other other parts of the body or organs. There are simple steps and checks you can do to reduce your risk.

Read more on NSW Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo