If you have an early-stage melanoma (stage 1 or 2), you are unlikely to feel unwell or have any additional symptoms other than the appearance, or change in appearance, of a mole or lesion. This is why you must contact your GP if you notice a new mole, lesion, nail streak or a change in a pre-existing area.  If you notice anything, it doesn’t mean you have a melanoma. It is always better to get checked out early. Melanoma is easier to treat and potentially curable if picked up early.

Initially you might be asked to take a picture of the area to send to your GP


Your GP or a specialist dermatologist may take digital photos of your mole or lesion. They may use a dermatoscope, a type of magnifying tool, to enable them to view deeper layers of your skin.

These photos may be sent through a secure messaging system to a specialist dermatology team for review. This pathway is called ‘teledermatology’.

What is teledermatology?

Teledermatology is where dermatological conditions are reviewed and/or diagnosed by specialist dermatologists from good photographic images. However, a diagnosis of melanoma is not determined just from photographs. To find out more about how melanoma is diagnosed, click here. 

Why teledermatology?

Teledermatology means patients can receive care closer to home, often by their GP. It prevents avoidable referrals to dermatologists and reduces the time patients need to wait for a diagnosis or referral. Essentially, it speeds up the process.

Is it safe?

Many hospitals offer a teledermatology service to speed up patient diagnoses of skin conditions. Services are regularly monitored and show similar outcomes to face-to-face appointments.

If you’ve contacted your GP about a suspicious mole or lesion, they may take a photograph or you may have been asked to take a picture and send it to them by a secure messaging system which will be saved to your medical records and shared, with your permission, with a specialist dermatology team. If your GP has some concern that you may have melanoma, you may be referred for an urgent review. This does not mean you have a melanoma, it just means you will be reviewed urgently.

Teledermatology allows specialist dermatologists to quickly examine the photographic images and then only invite you to be seen face-to-face if there are any concerns or if the photographic image is not clear enough. A face-to-face appointment does not mean you have melanoma skin cancer. In fact, even if the area has been removed and examined under a microscope, only a small proportion end up being diagnosed as a melanoma. 

How to take a good image?

The NHS have created a video to give you more information about this process and to explain how you can take the best picture for a specialist dermatologist to examine the mole or lesion you’re concerned about.

You can contact us on our Melanoma Helpline, to discuss any concerns you have. (Please note that our helpline nurses aren’t able to review pictures – this needs to be done via your GP).

Taking videos of your skin and sending them securely to your GP

Additional resources:

We’ve put together some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and useful tips to help you know what to expect if you are waiting for a diagnosis. View here. 

Our Melanoma Stages and Treatment – Patient Guide is a comprehensive resource that supports patients from diagnosis, treatment and beyond. View the guide here. 

Our Melanoma Glossary will help you understand the language that you may hear or read about. It covers a wide range of terms from diagnosis, treatment, surgery, scans, clinical trials and more. Click here to view the Melanoma Glossary.