While many doctors may be involved in skin cancer treatment, there are a few that typically deal with it directly, such as a General Practitioner (GP) and a dermatologist. It’s important to know who treats skin cancer so that you refer to the right health specialist for help with skin cancer treatment.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with more than 3 million people diagnosed with non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers each year, according to the World Health Organization. The good news is that many skin cancers are highly treatable if detected at an early stage. But who treats skin cancer and how can one find the best treatment?
Types of doctors that treat skin cancer
Who treats skin cancer? Let’s look at the most common types of doctors who can help you with skin cancer treatment:
- A General Practitioner (GP), also known as a family physician or family doctor, is usually the first point of contact in skin cancer care. GPs are not specialized in a specific type of medicine, but instead, treat a wide range of medical problems and often are familiar with a patient’s personal history. A general practitioner may be able to treat some minor forms of skin cancer and can refer patients to specialists for further treatment.
- A dermatologist is a doctor specialized in the diseases and concerns of the skin, hair, and nails.
- A surgical oncologist is specialized in treating cancer, and more specifically, is responsible for removing tumors and cancer tissues during operations, as well as for performing biopsies.
- A medical oncologist is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Medical oncologists use medicines and treatments including hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and biological therapy.
- A radiation oncologist is specialized in treating cancer with radiation therapy, using ionizing radiation such as megavoltage X-rays or radionuclides.
Other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, dietitians, anesthesiologists or genetic counselors, may also play a role in your treatment. Check out this list for all of the health professionals associated with cancer care.
How to find the right doctor
Finding a knowledgeable, specialized doctor who treats skin cancer is essential to getting proper care. Even if skin cancer is at an early stage, it is still important to find a highly experienced doctor in skin cancer issues. Start with the doctor who diagnosed the skin cancer. Ask them for recommendations on whom to talk to and where to go. But don’t stop there. Seek second opinions, contact local cancer centers and make sure to find a doctor that makes you feel comfortable. For further information, the American Cancer Society provides a helpful worksheet for questions to consider when choosing a doctor.