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Skin and soft tissue pathology – benign and malignant

ADULT

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.


  • Suspected strangulated/incarcerated or obstruction of any hernia
  • Acute, severe abdominal pain with or without associated sepsis
  • New onset of obstructive jaundice
  • Acute painful perianal conditions
  • Acute cholecystitis
  • Gallstones with symptoms of cholangitis
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Severe per rectum bleeding
  • Acute abscess at any site
  • Acute testicular pain

  • Refer to HealthPathways or local guidelines
  • Advise patient regarding sun avoidance and appropriate use of sun screens
  • Educate patient on skin cancer surveillance and arrange annual skin checks

Minimum Referral Criteria

  • Category 1
    (appointment within 30 calendar days)
    • Skin lesion highly suspicious for melanoma or excision biopsy proven melanoma – including re-excision
    • High degree of clinical suspicion
    • Large SCC, BCC
    • Rapidly growing skin lesions especially on the face
    • Non-melanoma skin malignancies and any of the following:
      • ulceration and bleeding
      • rapidly enlarging
      • neurological involvement
      • lymphadenopathy
    • Poorly differentiated or infiltrative tumour on biopsy
    • Soft tissue tumour with atypical features
    • Ingrown toenail with infection having failed primary care management

  • Category 2
    (appointment within 90 calendar days)
    • Small truncal or peripheral limb BCC or SCC or IEC
  • Category 3
    (appointment within 365 calendar days)
    • Benign soft tissue lesions e.g. lipoma ganglion not suitable for primary health management

1. Reason for request Indicate on the referral

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

2. Essential referral information Referral will be returned without this

  • Pigmented lesion features: size, shape, colour, inflammation, oozing, change in sensation

3. Additional referral information Useful for processing the referral

  • Biopsy results unless clinically contraindicated.  Excision biopsy is the preferred method for biopsy suspected melanoma
  • Smoking status
  • Anticoagulant therapy
  • USS of lesion (for a suspicious lipoma)
  • CT results – if malignancy suspected
  • Photograph – with patient’s consent, where secure image transfer, identification and storage is possible

4. Request

Patient's Demographic Details

  • Full name (including aliases)
  • Date of birth
  • Residential and postal address
  • Telephone contact number/s – home, mobile and alternative
  • Medicare number (where eligible)
  • Name of the parent or caregiver (if appropriate)
  • Preferred language and interpreter requirements
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Referring Practitioner Details

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Contact details – telephone, fax, email
  • Provider number
  • Date of referral
  • Signature

Relevant clinical information about the condition

  • Presenting symptoms (evolution and duration)
  • Physical findings
  • Details of previous treatment (including systemic and topical medications prescribed) including the course and outcome of the treatment
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Details of any associated medical conditions which may affect the condition or its treatment (e.g. diabetes), noting these must be stable and controlled prior to referral
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Drug allergies
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use

Reason for request

  • To establish a diagnosis
  • For treatment or intervention
  • For advice and management
  • For specialist to take over management
  • Reassurance for GP/second opinion
  • For a specified test/investigation the GP can't order, or the patient can't afford or access
  • Reassurance for the patient/family
  • For other reason (e.g. rapidly accelerating disease progression)
  • Clinical judgement indicates a referral for specialist review is necessary

Clinical modifiers

  • Impact on employment
  • Impact on education
  • Impact on home
  • Impact on activities of daily living
  • Impact on ability to care for others
  • Impact on personal frailty or safety
  • Identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Other relevant information

  • Willingness to have surgery (where surgery is a likely intervention)
  • Choice to be treated as a public or private patient
  • Compensable status (e.g. DVA, Work Cover, Motor Vehicle Insurance, etc.)
  • Please note that where appropriate and where available, the referral may be streamed to an associated public allied health and/or nursing service.  Access to some specific services may include initial assessment and management by associated public allied health and/or nursing, which may either facilitate or negate the need to see the public medical specialist.

  • A change in patient circumstance (such as condition deteriorating, or becoming pregnant) may affect the urgency categorisation and should be communicated as soon as possible.

  • Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.