Diagnosing Skin Cancer

As for many types of cancer, diagnosing skin cancer early is essential as this allows treatment to start as soon as possible. Survival rates of many forms of skin cancer are high and signs of cancer in the skin can be easier to spot than in other parts of the body. It makes sense to know what to look out for and when to take action.

Our approach to skin cancer diagnosis

Mole Screening at Our Dermatology Clinic in Harley Street, London

At The Devonshire Clinic, Dr Conal Perrett and his colleagues offer skin cancer screening, mole mapping and examination as well as skin cancer diagnosis through medical examination and biopsy.

For most people, a consultation ends in good news—the skin condition you thought might be cancer is due to another cause and is easily treated. But if it is cancer, we make sure you enter a treatment plan without delay.

When should I seek medical advice?

We are always happy to see patients who are worried and you should book an appointment if you notice:

  • An unusual mole, a mole that changes colour or a mole that bleeds or oozes
  • A new mole that grows quickly
  • A lump or an area of skin that has become rough, sore or itchy and won’t heal within 3-4 weeks

In most cases these conditions are not cancerous and are nothing to worry about, but you are still strongly advised to have them checked out as the treatment success rate for skin cancers is significantly increased by early diagnosis.

If left untreated, skin cancer can spread, both locally within the skin and elsewhere in the body. Treatment later on needs to be much more extensive; act quickly and more localised treatment may be all that is required.

Medical and family history

When you come in for a consultation with The Devonshire Clinic, we will ask you a number of questions about the area of skin you are worried about:

  • When did the problem first appear?
  • Has the lump/mole/sore area changed in size or appearance within the last few weeks?
  • Does the area itch or cause discomfort?
  • Is the lump or area of skin painful?
  • Does it bleed or ooze fluid at any time?

You will also be asked questions about your personal medical history, your family medical history and your history of sunbathing, use of sunbeds or your exposure to chemicals such as arsenic and creosote.

Your medical examination

Your dermatologist will examine the area in question in detail, noting the size, shape and colour of any moles or lumps and the colour and texture of the skin. The lymph nodes in your armpits, groin and neck may also be examined.

Skin cancer diagnosis in Harley Street, London

Dermatoscopy and its role in skin cancer diagnosis

Many potential skin cancers can be examined easily with the naked eye, however, your dermatologist may also perform a more detailed examination using a technique called dermatoscopy or epiluminescence microscopy.

This technique uses a special microscope, with its own light source, which is held close to the skin for a more detailed examination. A thin layer of oil may be used to aid this examination.

Will I need a skin biopsy?

If skin cancer cannot be ruled out but it is not obviously cancer, we will arrange for a skin biopsy. This is a procedure in which a portion of the skin is removed and examined under a microscope to check for the presence and type of cancer cells.

Lymph node biopsy

If your dermatologist suspects that your skin cancer has already begun to spread to your lymphatic system, then they may also do a lymph node biopsy. This may involve the removal of fluid from the lymph nodes using a small needle, called a fine needle aspiration, or the complete removal of the lymph node for examination.

Further tests used in skin cancer diagnosis

If your skin cancer is suspected of spreading beyond the lymphatic system, then your dermatologist may refer you for further tests, such as a CT or MRI scan.

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Diagnosing Skin Cancer

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Patient Stories

I can’t recommend this clinic highly enough. The treatment I received for my skin cancer was first class

AL, London

The team at the Devonshire Clinic were excellent. From booking my appointments to every part of my treatment, I felt that I was in the very best hands.

CH, London

Before visiting the clinic I had quite high expectations, but I was blown away by just how brilliant the experience was. I felt like I was the only patient in the clinic. Simply the best medical treatment.

SF, London

Our facilities

Our Dermatology Specialists

Our team of skin specialists at our dermatology clinic in London have many years of experience in treating patients with skin conditions. We understand your issues and aim to tailor our service so that you feel comfortable and reassured. Learn more about our dermatology consultants below.

Dr Conal Perrett
Consultant Dermatologist
& Dermatological Surgeon

Dr Conal Perrett is a leading Consultant Dermatologist & Dermatologic Surgeon practising at  The Devonshire Clinic. Dr  Perrett has expertise in general Dermatology and a specialist interest in skin cancer and skin surgery, utilising the most advanced high-tech equipment and techniques, including Photodynamic therapy (PDT), lasers and Mohs micrographic surgery.

Dr Jane McGregor
Consultant Dermatologist

For over 30 years, Dr Jane McGregor has provided expert dermatological care to patients. She has expertise in photobiology, skin cancer, sun allergy and dermatology. Dr Jane McGregor is an internationally recognised specialist in her field of skin cancer and skin disease for organ transplant recipients.

Dr Ian Logan
Consultant Dermatologist and Dermatological Surgeon

Dr Ian Logan specialises in skin lesion diagnosis and removal, skin cancer, skin surgery, Mohs micrographic surgery and general dermatology. Dr Ian Logan has received higher specialist training after completing a fellowship in Mohs Surgery and Advanced Dermatological Surgery at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Mr Colin Hopper
Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon

At University College London Hospital (UCLH) Mr Colin Hopper is a Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon, as well as the Programme Director for the MSc and MClin Dent program at UCL Eastman Dental Institute. Mr Colin Hopper is the international authority on Photodynamic therapy for head and neck cancer, and his work has produced over 100 publications to date.

Dr Elizabeth Kulakov
Consultant Dermatologist and Dermatological Surgeon

Dr Elizabeth Kulakov is the Skin Cancer Lead at  University College London Hospital NHS Trust. Dr Elizabeth Kulakov specialises in skin cancer, skin surgery, Mohs micrographic surgery and general dermatology.

Dr Rachel Sidwell
Consultant Dermatologist

Dr Rachel Sidwell is a highly experienced Consultant Dermatologist. Whilst she consults on all skin issues including skin cancers and general Dermatology, she has special expertise in paediatric dermatology.

Dr Rubeta Matin
Consultant Dermatologist

Dr Rubeta Matin specialises in skin cancer, general dermatology and oral/vulval skin disease. An acclaimed clinical researcher, she collaborates with world-renowned global specialists and is the research lead for skin cancer in the dermatology department at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Ashley Spencer
Consultant Dermatologist

Dr Ashley Spencer is ranked first nationally for entrance into dermatology training which has earned her a place on the North London Dermatology Training Programme. Dr Ashley Spencer specialises in many treatments for skin conditions, especially skin manifestations of connective tissue disease, including lupus. As a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Association of Dermatologists and the British Society for the Study of vulval disease, Dr Ashley Spencer has access to the latest information about dermatology.

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