If you're referred to a specialist to have a lesion (a mole, patch or lump) on your skin checked, they should examine it using a magnifying tool called a dermoscope. If they don't think the lesion needs treatment straight away, but they are not entirely sure that it is harmless, they should offer to photograph it. They should keep the photograph and ask you to come back again in 3 months to check whether the lesion has changed since the photograph was taken.

If it's thought that the lesion might be melanoma, it can be removed and sent to a laboratory to be tested and measured. The results of the tests will show whether it is melanoma and will give information about what stage it is. You should be told what stage of melanoma you have.

Unusual lesions (spitzoid lesions)

If you have a lesion that is unusual (called a spitzoid lesion) and it is not certain whether it is melanoma, it should be discussed by the specialist skin cancer multidisciplinary team. If there is any doubt, the lesion should be treated as if it were melanoma.

Questions you might like to ask your care team

  • If the specialist doesn't think my lesion is melanoma, will I be referred back to my GP?

  • Will it help if I take pictures of the lesion too, so that I can check whether it's changing?

  • When can I have the lesion removed?

  • When will I find out whether it's melanoma?

  • If it is melanoma will I need to have any more surgery?

  • What stage of melanoma do I have? What does this mean for me?

  • Will I need more tests?

  • How likely is it that my melanoma has spread?

  • Are my relatives likely to develop melanoma?

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