Whether you’re worried you might have skin cancer or are just seeking advice on prevention strategies, it’s hard to know who is best to speak to. Do you go to the Skin Cancer Clinic or GP? The Skin Specialist or Dermatologist?
Let us break down the differences between these specialists so that you can make an informed decision about your health and get the professional advice you need.
What is the difference between a Dermatologist and a Skin Specialist?
A Dermatologist is a fully trained doctor with an additional four years of specialist training in Dermatology. They specialise in, diagnose and treat all matters regarding the skin, which includes hair, nails and the wet areas of the mouth and genitalia. Dermatologists can treat a variety of things, from acne, psoriasis, eczema, skin infections and melasma to moles and skin cancer. They are also trained to deliver cosmetic services such as laser therapy and fillers. (i)
If you’re weighing up a Dermatologist vs a Skin Specialist, the good news is - there’s no difference between the two. A dermatologist is the official term for a medical professional specialising in skin, and Skin Specialist is just another term for this. Be careful, however, not to get confused with “Skin Care Specialists”, which refers to those who provide beauty treatments to the skin, hair and nails. (ii)
Skin Cancer Clinic or Best GP?
A GP, by its very definition, is a General Practitioner and will most likely be your first point of contact in most personal health matters. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world (iii), so our GPs are generally well-versed in skin cancer detection. Many GPs will happily treat you for some skin cancers, while others will refer you to a specialist or a Skin Cancer Clinic.
Skin Cancer Clinics specialise in skin cancer and only skin cancer. Doctors in some Skin Cancer Clinics may be GPs by training and, therefore, will have the same qualifications as your GP. The difference, however, is that they perform skin checks and treat skin cancer daily, whereas a GP does not. (iv)
Who Should I See About My Skin Cancer?
A GP is a General Practitioner, and whilst they will have plenty of knowledge and experience in dealing with Skin Cancer (especially in Australia), they treat various illnesses and ailments.
A Dermatologist or a Skin Specialist will also have plenty of experience dealing with skin cancer, but again, their work will span many diseases and issues relating to the skin. Although they specialise in skin, skin cancer is not their only focus.
On the other hand, Skin Cancer Clinics deal with skin cancer day in and day out. Diagnosing, treating and advising on prevention methods regarding skin cancer is all they do. They will therefore be up to date with the latest information, technology and best practice in the industry.
All of these professionals will be able to give you guidance and treatment for skin cancer, and you should ultimately seek assistance from whichever makes you most comfortable.
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