Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop in the outermost layer of skin and are often named after the type of skin cell from which they develop, such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
Melanoma is a rare and serious type of cancer that begins in the skin and can spread to other organs in the body.
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What to expect at your appointment
We hold two rapid-access clinics a week which give patients with new or changing skin lesions fast access to diagnosis and treatment.
On your first visit, you will be seen by one of our dermatologists. You usually have a full skin examination which involves undressing to your underwear. We can provide you with a chaperone.
Where suitable, we will see and treat you on the same day. Your treatment may involve minor surgery under local anaesthetic. You will be able to return to work afterwards, but in some cases you may prefer to go home.
If you do need treatment, you may be at King's for up to three hours. We will tell you at the time how long you are likely to be in the clinic. Please take this into account when parking and for other commitments.
We often take clinical photographs of the skin growth and examine any lesions that are removed.
Tests and investigations
At your first appointment you usually have a skin biopsy. This is the most common test we do at our clinic and it may take up to two weeks for the results to come back. The test helps us to find out whether you have cancer and to assess your treatment options.
Occasionally, you may also need other investigations at King's, such as:
Your care and treatment depends on the type cancer you have, its size and where it is, how far it has advanced (the stage) and your overall health. The final decision about what treatment you have is yours.
After our team of specialists reviews the results of your tests and investigations, we will arrange an appointment so you can discuss your treatment options with your consultant and clinical nurse specialist.
They may include:
- cream treatment
- cryotherapy, where the cancer is frozen, causing the area to scab over and fall off
- photodynamic therapy, where a strong light source is shone on the area to kill the cancer
- radiotherapy at Guy’s or St Thomas’ Hospitals
- surgery, including Mohs’ micrographic surgery, where the cancer is removed bit by bit
Who to contact
At your first appointment, we will tell you who your key worker is and how and when you can contact them. Your key worker is usually a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
Clinical nurse specialist
If you have practical queries or want further information about support groups, contact the Macmillan Centre at King’s.
Your care will be provided by a team of experts we call a multidisciplinary team (MDT). This is a group of doctors, nurses and other health professionals with expertise in a specific cancer. This team will discuss and manage your care and plan the treatment that’s best for you.
Our team is led by Dr Saqib Bashir, Consultant Dermatologist, and includes specialists such as dermatologists, dermatological surgeons, plastic surgeons, maxillo-facial surgeons and occuloplastic surgeons.
How we support you
We want to make sure that you get all the assistance you need to live well with – and after – cancer. There’s a wide range of support available to help you cope with cancer, including physical, emotional and practical advice for you, your family, friends and carers.