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Skin Cancer

 201-227-6008   |    cancer@holyname.org

Overview

Skin cancer comes from the abnormal growth of damaged skin cells, which is most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. There are three main types of skin cancer - melanoma, squamous cell and basal cell. They are generally diagnosed initially by a primary care physician or dermatologist. Most are easily treated with outpatient therapies.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. About 180,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it every year. More than 4 million individuals develop basal cell and 1 million get squamous cell annually.

The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name has a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and skilled medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses and support staff to diagnose and treat advanced skin cancers. Together they provide a compassionate, unified approach in creating a personal strategy for each patient's unique medical, emotional and lifestyle needs.


  • Skin sores that do not heal

  • Skin lesions with raised borders around a sore in the middle

  • Skin lesions with irregular borders or colors

  • Change in the size or color of a mole

  • Exposure to ultraviolet light - sunshine or tanning beds

  • Fair skin

  • Residing at high elevation

  • Exposure to radiation

  • Immunosuppression

  • Sexually acquired viruses

  • Increasing age

  • Personal history of skin cancer

  • Physical exam

  • Biopsy

Most basal or squamous skin cancers can be easily treated by topical chemotherapy - a cream or ointment applied to the cancer - with very few side effects. Others can be simply removed in a doctor's office.

The treatment of melanoma depends upon the stage of the cancer when it is initially diagnosed. Early stage melanomas can be removed surgically. For later stage melanomas, more extensive surgery, including removal of lymph glands in the area, may be required. Immunotherapy, chemotherapy or radiation may also be needed if the cancer has spread to other organs.