The latest technologies and comprehensive team treatment to fight skin cancer
Our skin cancer team takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating skin cancers, including the three most commonly diagnosed: melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer. From screening with advanced Mole Mapping technology to treatment and survivorship, we have you covered.
Our melanoma and skin cancer multidisciplinary team meet regularly to review patient cases and treatment options to ensure you receive the best individualized care. The team also looks at policies and procedures and available clinical trials to ensure every patient is receiving the highest quality care available.
Types of Cancer
Skin cancers are named for the type of cells that become malignant. The three most common types are:
Melanoma: Melanoma begins in the melanocytes (pigment cells). Melanoma can occur on any skin surface. In men, it’s often found on the skin of the head, neck or between the shoulders and hips. In women, it’s often found on the skin on the lower legs or between the shoulders and the hips. However, melanoma has been found under the fingernails, toenails, palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
Basal cell cancer: Basal cell skin cancer begins in the basal cell layer of the skin. It usually occurs in places that have been exposed to the sun. The face is the most common place to find basal cell skin cancer.
Squamous cell skin cancer: Squamous cell skin cancer begins in the squamous cells. In people with darker skin, squamous cell skin cancer can be found in places that are not always exposed to the sun such as the legs or feet. In fairer skinned people, squamous cell skin cancer usually occurs on parts of the skin that are more often exposed to the sun including the head, face, ears and neck.
Skin cancers can spread to nearby tissue and throughout the body, most commonly the lymph nodes. Melanoma is more likely than other skin cancers to spread to other parts of the body.
Some skin cancers can be removed during a biopsy or procedure at your dermatologist’s office. Others, particularly advanced stages of melanoma, may require surgery. Surgical treatments vary depending on the type of skin cancer and stage. Your physician will help you develop a plan and provide additional educational materials on your treatment.
Some surgical options include:
Wide excision: Wide local excision surgery works to remove cancerous cells and surrounding normal skin and fatty tissue in patients diagnosed with melanoma, basal or squamous cell skin cancer. The normal tissue is removed as a precaution. If the cancerous cells have spread beyond the original site, they likely will be removed with the normal tissue.
Skin grafts: Skin grafts are a surgery intervention where a section of skin from another area of the body is used to adequately cover a surgical wound following wide excision or other procedures.
Mohs surgery: Mohs surgery works to remove cancerous cells in patients diagnosed with basal or squamous cell skin cancer. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are removed and examined repeatedly until only cancer-free tissue remains. Reconstructed plastic surgery is often necessary following Mohs surgery.
Lymphadenectomy: Approximately one in five patients with melanoma thicker than one millimeter will learn the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes. A physician may use a physical exam, X-ray and biopsy to determine if the cancer has spread. If lymph nodes contain melanoma cells, they are removed in a procedure called lymphadenectomy or lymph node dissection. In this procedure your surgeon will remove all the lymph nodes in the group of nodes nearest the melanoma; for example, above the collarbone if the cancer is in the head or neck region or the armpit if the cancer is on the arm or shoulders.
Other skin cancer treatment options
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs, either administered orally or through IV, to kill rapidly multiplying cells, including cancer cells.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation Therapy is the use of high powered radiation or radioactive elements to kill cancerous cells.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that seeks to stimulate your own immune system to fight cancer.
Targeted Therapy: Targeted Therapy is treatment with drugs or other substances that block the growth and progression of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression.
Clinical Trials: New treatments are being studied every day in clinical trial research. Learn more about the LCRP’s Clinical Trials Program here.
Prevention and Screening
The best things you can do to protect your skin from cancer or reoccurrence are prevention and screening. Our skin cancer team recommends always using sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and using products, such as makeup, lip balm and facial moisturizer, with SPF. Learn more here.
Screening for skin cancer survivors is recommended routinely through self-exams, dermatologist visits, Mole Mapping and annual and bi-annual visits with your surgeon. It is recommended anyone, especially those with fair skin, hair and eyes or those exposed often to the sun, perform self-exams of moles, freckles and other lesions on the skin to try to prevent skin cancer.
Meet Our Skin Team Physicians
Jeffrey Mandel, M.D.
John Mikell, M.D.
Yana Puckett, M.D., MBA, MPH, MSC
Catherine Ronaghan, M.D.
Alison Spellman, M.D.
Howard A. Zaren, M.D., F.A.C.S.
For more information about cancer surgical services or comprehensive cancer services and physician specialists at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion, please call 912-819-5704. We look forward to helping you.