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Melanoma and Skin Cancer Treatment Options

Skin cancer and melanoma are highly select diseases.

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, you receive a complete continuum of care through the combined expertise of:

  • Surgical oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Dermatologists

Once we know what type of skin cancer you have, you will likely have a biopsy. This provides information on how to treat the tumor.

Based on the results, your skin cancer team will design a treatment plan that's best for you and your disease process.

The size, location, depth, and involvement of other tissues are all factors that help our experts decide the best course of treatment.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center also offers the chance to take part in clinical trials of breakthrough skin cancer treatments. Many times, you won't find these treatments anywhere else.

Every type of skin cancer treatment — traditional and novel — is within our scope of expertise.

Surgery for Skin Cancer and Melanoma

The first course of action is often to remove the primary tumor and a margin of skin along with the sentinel lymph node nearest to the tumor. Surgeons may remove other lymph nodes or areas with traces of cancer, depending on the location.

If possible, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center surgeons can apply plastic surgery techniques to eliminate the need for skin grafts.

Medical Oncology for Skin Cancer and Melanoma

Medical oncology includes chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill skin cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. It may take the form of a pill or a shot.

You may receive a chemo shot directly into the tumor. Or, your team may use regional chemotherapy techniques if the cancer is limited to one area of the body.

If appropriate, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center also uses immunotherapy (or biotherapy) along with other treatment approaches.

Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system to treat melanoma by using biologic agents to heighten the body's ability to fight disease. This approach can also reduce the blood flow to the tumor.

Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer and Melanoma

For tumors that surgeons can't access, radiation may be the best approach.

The Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program pioneered the use of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). SRS uses precisely focused radiation beams to pinpoint tumors while leaving surrounding tissues unaffected.

Advanced SRS technologies — including CyberKnife® and Trilogy® — allow our experts to treat cancer without having to make an incision. These approaches combine high-quality imaging with targeted radiation therapy.

Melanoma and Skin Cancer: Treating the Whole Person

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we believe that the best skin cancer treatment begins with a focus on you.

We offer a range of supportive care services that can help you feel more at ease and make your treatments more effective.

These services can help you and your loved ones manage melanoma and skin cancer treatment and recovery:

  • Behavioral medicine — psychologists and psychiatrists can help you create a plan for meeting the challenges of skin cancer.
  • Nutrition — our diet and nutrition experts can craft a meal plan to help you regain or maintain your health.
  • Skin cancer pain management — pain experts will work with your care team to relieve pain from cancer treatment.
  • Palliative care — this service aims to improve the quality of life for people whose cancer is no longer responsive to curative treatments.
  • Social support — social workers can help you manage the practical aspects of living with melanoma or skin cancer.
  • Interpreter services — interpreters help global patients and others with language barriers discern the cancer treatment process.

Contact Us About Melanoma and Skin Cancer Care

To learn more about melanoma and skin cancer care or to make an appointment, you can:

Doctors and nurses talking at a conference table

Melanoma Specialty Care

Our multidisciplinary team of melanoma experts treats people who have advanced or metastatic skin cancer. They also offer second opinions.

Learn more about Melanoma Specialty Care at UPMC CancerCenter.