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 min read

If diagnosed and treated early, melanoma is nearly 100% curable.

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. However, 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

The leading cause of all types of skin cancer - melanoma and non-melanoma - is 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 severe. 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.

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

Last reviewed: September 2016

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 120 results

Skin Cancer Self-Check - Skin Cancer Clinic

How and Why do a skin cancer self check? Read all about the benefits, risks, and best method from an experienced Skin Cancer Doctor.

Read more on My Skin Check website

Skin Check - Skin Cancer Clinic

The aim of the skin check is to make an early diagnosis of skin cancer & melanoma whilst keeping biopsy rate as low as possible. A full skin check is a head ...

Read more on My Skin Check website

Melanoma - Skin Cancer Clinic

The ABCDE is not that helpful a tool for early diagnosis and here's why.

Read more on My Skin Check website

Melanoma - Skin Cancer | myVMC

Malignant melanoma is a deadly type of skin cancer associated with sun exposure. Australians has the one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Melanoma and skin cancer support

Information on support services available to people with melanoma and skin cancer.

Read more on WA Health website

Nail Melanoma - Skin Cancer Clinic

Nail melanoma appears as pigmented lines along the length of the nail - including the base. Thankfully, other causes of nail pigmentation are commoner.

Read more on My Skin Check website

Types of skin cancer

There are 3 types of skin cancer and they are named after the type of skin cell they start from. These are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma skin cancer.

Read more on WA Health website

Melanoma -

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Most melanomas arise as a new spot on previously normal skin, rather than from a pre-existing mole.

Read more on myDr website

Combined Nevus - Skin Cancer Clinic

A combined nevus is two nevi in one - namely a "blue nevus" and a normal flattish brown nevus (mole)

Read more on My Skin Check website

Skin cancer symptoms- Identification through skin examination

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

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information 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

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