Frequently asked Questions

At Skin Cancer Doctors, we understand the importance of providing you with comprehensive information about skin health and skin cancer prevention. Whether you are looking for guidance on routine skin checks, understanding different types of skin cancer, or exploring treatment options, this list of frequently asked questions may address your concerns. Feel free to contact us for personalised assistance.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand. Unfortunately, we have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. More New Zealanders die from melanoma than on our roads. The good news is, when found early, most melanomas and other skin cancers are treatable.

There are several risk factors for skin cancer. In general, having any of the following puts you at higher risk:

​1) Fair skin that burns easily
2) Large number of moles
3) If you’ve had a previous skin cancer
4) Significant sun exposure in your job or recreational activity
5) If you’re taking immune suppressing medication
​6) A family history of skin cancer

If you are at high risk, it is recommended that you have at least a yearly skin check with one of our doctors who are qualified in diagnosing and treating skin cancers.

It is usual for skin checks to be done annually, but some people require this to be done more frequently. During your skin check the doctor will determine your risk for developing skin cancer and depending on this risk you will be advised how often to have your skin checked. We can send a reminder when this is due.

The three most common types of skin cancer are:

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common of the skin cancer types, but it is also the least dangerous. It is very rarely a threat to life. It typically appears on areas of the skin that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face and neck. BCC usually grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. It is often characterised by a pearly or waxy bump, or a flat, flesh-coloured or brown scar-like lesion.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. It generally occurs on skin that has had chronic sun-exposure and is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma. SCC often appears as a red, scaly, tender spot, or a raised growth with a central crust. It may crust or bleed and can develop into a more aggressive form if left untreated.

Melanoma is less common than basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, but it is a more serious type of skin cancer. Melanoma originates in the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) of the skin. It can develop from an existing mole but is more likely to appear as a new, abnormal spot. Melanomas are often asymmetrical, have irregular borders, display varied colours, and change/grow. Early detection and treatment is crucial for melanoma due to its ability to spread quickly.

Skin cancer is highly correlated with sun exposure and protecting the skin from harmful UV rays by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and regular skin checks can significantly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. When the UV index (UVI) is above three you should be protecting your skin when outdoors.

If you notice any changes in your skin, such as new growths, changes in moles, or persistent sores, it’s advisable to consult us for evaluation. Regular skin screenings are recommended, especially for people with a history of sun exposure or other risk factors.

Our dedication lies in the diagnosis and management of skin cancer, with a sole focus on this vital aspect of healthcare. We don’t get distracted with other areas of medicine or cosmetic procedures. We take the time and have the techniques to ensure any procedures performed are done precisely and the resulting scar is as natural as possible.

With us, you are examined by a doctor with expert skills in the diagnosis and management of skin cancer and you are provided with an assessment and management advice on the day. Further treatment can be organised for you and is usually done onsite for your convenience.

Our approach is characterised by friendliness and approachability, creating an environment where you feel at ease during check-ups or procedures. Collaborating closely with local plastic and general surgeons, as well as fellow skin cancer doctors, is integral to our practice. Regular meetings are held to discuss emerging trends in skin cancer medicine and address complex cases.

Being locally owned and operated, our genuine care for the community is reflected in our commitment to providing the best service possible. Your wellbeing is our priority, and we take pride in fostering strong connections within the Northland community.

Our skin cancer doctors are highly skilled vocationally registered general practitioners who have completed further training and hold qualifications in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. We are experts in the in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of skin cancers.

No, we don’t. We are GPs who are specially trained in skin cancer, not dermatologists. If you need advice on other skin conditions, please see your family doctor or dermatologist.

Yes, your skin check will be done with a doctor, not a technician or nurse. You will be provided with an assessment and plan on the day rather than having to wait for an off-site report to be completed by someone who has never consulted you.

If a skin cancer is found, your doctor will discuss a treatment plan with you, and you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. In most cases, when found early, skin cancer is easily and successfully treated with surgery or a non-surgical treatment. Most cancers are cured once they are removed. If any additional treatment is required, we will discuss this with you.

Lesions that require urgent management are dealt with urgently by our doctors. It will not be left for months, and you will not be put on a long waiting list while they grow or spread. While we can often remove a lesion within a few days, you usually won’t have to wait longer than a few weeks. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The doctor will use a dermatoscope to perform your skin check. This is a small handheld tool that magnifies the skin ten times the size and has polarised light to reduce reflection and enable us to view the first few layers of skin.

With our extensive training in using this tool, we can see early signs of melanoma and other skin cancers and find them when they are not visible to the naked eye. We also have dermoscope lenses that attach to cameras which enable us to take digital dermoscopic images.

We have access to a great imaging platform called DermEngine to record and monitor the spots on your skin. We are happy to send you copies of the images taken during your checks for your records and reference.

We understand that you may feel uncomfortable removing clothing. Please be aware that skin cancers can occur on skin that never see the sun and the more skin we examine, the more thorough the check is.

It is usual to remove your clothes down to your underwear however if you are not comfortable with this you can choose what you wish to remove. You are very welcome to bring a support person with you.

We have both female and male doctors available so let us know when booking if you have a preference. We offer private areas for dressing and undressing behind a curtain, and we have sheets available to cover areas of your body when they are not being checked.

Our facility is regularly audited to ensure we are operating at the highest possible standard. We hold NZS 8165:2005 Rooms/Office-based surgery and procedures standard so you know you are having your consultation or treatment at an appropriate well managed clinic with robust systems and processes in place.

Missed appointments results in the loss of valuable time that could otherwise be utilised to identify or treat a skin cancer, either for yourself or another patient. Appointments must be cancelled/rescheduled at least 48 hours prior to the planned appointment to avoid a cancellation fee. This allows us time to book another patient into the time slot. Our late cancellation/missed appointment fee is 50% of the planned consultation/treatment.