The Royal Free London (RFL) skin cancer service is one of the largest referral centres for skin cancer in London.

We receive more than 8,500 suspected skin cancer two week wait referrals a year, treat more than 300 patients with melanoma plus more than 3,000 patients with non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) annually. This makes us one of the largest providers of skin cancer services in the UK.

There is a dedicated and highly experienced team of skin cancer specialists working as a multidisciplinary team comprising:

  • clinical nurse specialists
  • clinical oncologists
  • dermatologists
  • dermatopathologists
  • maxillofacial surgeons
  • medical oncologists
  • mohs surgeons
  • oculoplastic surgeons
  • plastic surgeons
  • radiologists.

The service is supported by an efficient administrative team involved in the care of patients with skin cancers.

The Royal Free London Skin Unit

We provide clinical care and patient experience to the highest standard, with the aim to lead across London on the delivery of Melanoma and NMSC oncology.

Using innovation, modern technology, and artificial intelligence, we provide treatment in a compassionate environment.

With an already established clinical trials portfolio, our vision is to further expand patient access to skin cancer clinical trials, plus establish ourselves as a centre for translational immuno-oncology.

For these goals, we wish to capitalise on being located in the Pears Building, also home to the Institute of Immunology at the Royal Free.

Our services

  • large regional plastic surgery network providing complex treatment and reconstruction
  • tertiary centre for Melanoma oncology
  • tertiary centre for non-melanoma skin cancer including rarer tumours
  • regional dermatology Mohs micrographic surgery unit
  • maxillofacial and oculoplastics for more complex head and neck skin cancers
  • tertiary referral centre for stage 1 and 2 primary cutaneous lymphomas
  • a major renal and liver transplant centre with dedicated transplant and immunosuppressed dermatology clinic for higher risk skin cancer patients
  • immunotoxicities multidisciplinary team and skin clinic for patients with immunotherapy-related cutaneous adverse effects

We receive referrals from hospital trusts across north west London, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire, which include University College London, Whittington, North Middlesex, Northwick Park, Hillingdon, Princess Alexandra, Watford, and Lister Hospitals.

We also accept direct referrals from primary care. Outreach clinics, by plastic surgical colleagues, are held at Watford, Northwick Park, Hillingdon, and Luton hospital trusts.

When we see you, we may have to do some investigative tests, either on the same day or shortly afterwards.

Tests may include a surgical biopsy of the lesion — a minor procedure carried out with local anaesthetic. More rarely, an ultrasound examination is carried out.

If a skin cancer is diagnosed during the initial tests, we may offer further tests to ‘stage’ the cancer — this means establishing the size and type, and if there is any spread of the cancer. 

These tests may include a CT scan, PET scan or an MRI scan. Ultrasound scans are sometimes also used.

Most minor skin cancer lesions are treated with simple surgical excision, carried out under local anaesthetic. We also use topical (cream) treatments or superficial radiotherapy.

For other lesions treatment will depend on the type of skin lesion, the presenting stage and your general fitness.

Sometimes, patients need a combination of surgery and systemic treatment (ie treatment that is given periodically as an intravenous infusion).

Sometimes, a suitable treatment may involve taking part in a clinical trial and, if indicated, this option will be presented to you.

A treatment given as part of a clinical trial may take place at the Royal Free London, or you may be referred to another NHS centre.