Wilma is a skin cancer specialist nurse, here to answer your questions about different...
Hi everyone. Still in the very early days of trying to make sense of the situation - any advice gratefully received.
My wife recently paid to visit a private clinic to get some moles assessed, after her previous GP had said there was no problem.
They have assessed one mole as potentially a melanoma, and said she needs to see a specialist urgently and have it tested/removed. Our new GP agrees and has made an urgent NHS referral, but waiting times in our area are beyond the hoped for two week period, and my wife is very worried.
My question is this. If we paid to go back to the clinic and got them to do the testing/removal, if it gets diagnosed as cancerous and more complicated e.g. if the cancer has started to spread, can she go back to the NHS for the further treatment she would need? We don't have private health insurance and while we can just about afford the cost for the test/removal, we certainly couldn't afford longer term private treatment.
Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Dear Alan - I am sorry to hear what your wife is going through.
Every case is different but I started down the NHS route, swapped over to a private consultant and then when I tried to go back to the NHS to get a very expensive prescription, even though my doctor was happy to do this, the system didn't let him do this.
However, I am sure every case is different but I think the best thing to do is ask your surgery as they will know for sure.
I hope you get it sorted very soon.
Hi Alan_swf and a warm welcome to the online community
I'm sorry to hear that your wife is waiting to have a mole removed and I can understand how anxious this might make her feel.
I too went for a private consultation to see a dermatologist when I had a lesion appear on my arm and my GP didn't know it was. The consultant didn't think it was anything to worry about and told me that he would see me in his NHS clinic to save me the cost of the removal and biopsy as I, like you, didn't have private health care.
When your wife went to a private clinic did she see a consultant dermatologist as he or she probably has a NHS practice where the excision could be done?
The time frame between having her mole examined and having it removed is 28 days not two weeks and, if your wife has already seen a consultant dermatologist she doesn't need to be referred to another one in the NHS for him to examine it and decide it needs removing, it just needs removing.
I hope my last paragraph made sense!
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Hi Latchbrook. Thanks for the suggestions.
It's slightly more complicated than I said originally :) She went to a place called 'The Mole Clinic' in London (they have several centres) where a trained nurse does a complete body check, photographs anything remotely suspicious, and then sends the photos to a consultant for review. He was the person who said we needed a referral and test/removal.
The next step is then to see a consultant 'in real life' as it were. If we pay to see one of the Mole Clinic's consultants, all treatment would need to be paid for through the clinic - they can't opt to treat us in their NHS practice.
We could presumably use the route you did i.e. find our own consultant and pay for a private consultation, and hope they too would then do any further treatment in their NHS practice. It's the uncertainty that's the stressor at the moment, so your story is really helpful.
How did you find your dermatologist by the way? Where do you even start looking?
And the 2 week period I mentioned was just what we were told by our GP for an urgent referral - being seen in two weeks, not treatment.
I did wonder Alan_swf if it was one of these types of clinics that your wife had been to.
My GP didn't think my lesion was anything to worry about but, as he didn't know what it was, he referred me for a non-urgent referral. The NHS date came through within a week but as the appointment wasn't for a further 8 weeks and I was due to go away on an extended holiday shortly afterwards I decided to see a consultant privately.
I phoned one of the local private hospitals and asked for an appointment with a dermatologist and was seen the next day. Once I had made the appointment and knew the name of the consultant I phoned my GPs practice so that they could fax through my details. However, a referral from a GP isn't always necessary, just ask at the time of booking if you decide to go down that route.
The consultant I saw didn't think my lesion was cancerous and so it was about 8 weeks later before I had it removed and it turned out to be an amelanotic melanoma, I don't know who was more surprised him or me! I then had the standard follow up treatment, clicking on my name will tell you my story if you're interested, and now have 3 monthly check-ups.
Although I can understand why your wife would be anxious, it's impossible to tell from a photo alone whether a mole is a melanoma or not and most people's moles are fine. However, it is sensible to try and get this looked at as soon as possible but, if it's say 3 weeks before she sees someone on the NHS, a week or two won't make any difference to the outcome.
Please feel free to ask me any more questions you have and let me know what she decides to do.
Thanks so much latchbrook for taking the time, and for your story and advice. Some of it now seems incredibly obvious (call a private hospital :) but it had never occurred to us as an option. Stress does odd things to your decision making abilities.
Coincidentally she rang the NHS hospital she has been referred to today, just to check on progress - after spending an hour on hold, she eventually got told she can expect a call in the next few days and an appointment soon after, so we'll see how that goes, and I will update you when we know for sure.
Thanks again - this community as a place just to come and ask questions is amazing, even at our very early stage.
No problem at all Alan_swf. As you say, you don't always think straight when under stress.
Good news that it looks likely your wife will get an appointment sooner rather than later.
You might like to join us over in the melanoma group as well. To do this click on the link I've created and then choose 'join this group' on the page that opens.
When you have a minute it would be really useful if could pop something about your wife's journey so far into your profile as it helps others when answering or looking for someone with a similar diagnosis. It also means that you don't have to keep repeating yourself. To do this click on your username and then select 'Edit Profile'. You can amend it at any time and if you're not sure what to write you can take a look at mine by clicking on my username.
Did your wife get a phone call from the hospital making her an appointment?
Thanks for asking - apologies for not updating here. We've been busy and what with the heat too...
She has got an appointment now thanks and, the thing I didn't make clear last time, so have I. I didn't want to complicate things here initially, but we both got checked at the mole clinic at the same time, and both got referred for potential melanomas. Hers seems more potentially serious than mine, but we now both have appointments with different consultants/hospitals next week, so we'll be clearer then.
I'll update my profile too.
Oh no Alan_swf, I didn't realise that you were both being referred for potential melanomas!
Glad to hear though that you both have appointments with consultants next week. They may decide that your moles don't look suspicious, as I would imagine it's difficult to tell from a photo, and you don't need them excising. However, they may play it on the safe side and decide to remove them. Either way, let me know how you both get on.
Hi latchbrook. Once again it's taken me a while to reply.
We've both had our appointments now - look's like mine is not a melanoma but my wife's probably is. We both have appointments next week for biopsy and removal, so we'll know for sure soon...
Hi Alan_swf, nice to hear from you again.
That's good news that they don't think your lesion is a melanoma!
Don't forget to ask when you go for your biopsies how long the results are currently taking and how they will communicate them to you.
Do come back and let me know how you both get on.
I was just wondering how you and your wife got on when you had your lesions removed. Have you had the results back yet?
Thanks for asking - no news yet. My wife should find out this week. Me sometime after (they are struggling to find an appointment)
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