Melanoma is a cancer that most often starts in the deep layers of skin with the cells produce pigment. While it is aggressive and potentially life-threatening, most cases are caught early and are curable. Treatment for early-stage melanoma or skin cancer is usually possible with an excision. Patients with higher risk melanoma are generally offered a sentinel lymph node biopsy at the time of their excision to more accurately stage their disease. This also guides decisions on drug therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence. Up to 4% of patients initially present with melanoma that has spread to distant areas, which requires drug therapy and may also include treatments such as surgery and radiation.
Patients can also have melanoma arise from areas other the skin, such as the eyes, nasal/oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract. Melanoma arising from non-skin areas can have aggressive behaviors and may be less responsive to standard therapies, requiring a specialized team of experienced providers and access to clinical trials.
Our expert melanoma and skin cancer oncologists welcome the chance to help you with an initial diagnosis or offer a second opinion.
Our team of fellowship trained surgical and medical oncologists has years of training and experience treating people with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. We use the latest research findings to care for patients and offer the most advanced cancer clinical trials. We believe in a multidisciplinary approach, and work with teams of specialists in a variety of fields to offer you the highest standard of care.
Melanoma / Skin Cancer Treatment
You will get a timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment options designed for your specific circumstances. Our melanoma / skin cancer approach features:
- Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Care: Pathology and treatment plans are reviewed within a multidisciplinary melanoma and skin cancer tumor board of dermatologists, dermatopathologists, surgical oncologists, and medical oncologists to provide an integrated approach to manage your specific cancer. This can entail surgical, radiation and drug therapy strategies. We offer the full range of treatment options including standard and complex surgeries, MOHs surgery, radiosurgery, proton beam radiotherapy, and targeted therapy / immunotherapy / chemotherapy management.
- Clinical Trials and Research: Our doctors and scientists continue to improve the way melanoma and other skin cancers are diagnosed and treated, and to provide access to promising therapies not always available through other networks and centers. Our team members are leading national trials to optimize current therapies and to discover new approaches in patients with advanced melanoma.
- Follow-up Care: Unfortunately, melanoma can return after surgery, and patients are also at higher risk of developing other new skin cancers. That’s why we make sure you get regular checkups to protect your health. Patients treated for advanced melanoma and other skin cancers also benefit from survivorship care. Our team provides integrated care for surveillance and long-term survivorship even after your treatment ends.
- Reconstruction and Restoration: Our team includes top plastic surgeons, in case the cancer is located in a cosmetically sensitive area or requires the removal of a larger amount of skin and repair afterward.
Types of Melanoma Arising from the Skin
Malignant melanoma affects people in several different ways. These ways include:
- Superficial spreading – This common type of melanoma appears as a smooth shape with uneven borders. Its can be bluish or brownish.
- Lentigo maligna – This type of melanoma generally affects older adults and appears as flat and brown on the arms, face, and neck.
- Nodular – This type of melanoma is bumpy and can either be black, blue, red, or even colorless.
- Acral lentiginous – This type of melanoma typically affects the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
Signs of Skin Melanoma
Certain types of moles can indicate the presence of malignant melanoma. If the mole has any of what we call the “ABCDEs of melanoma,” you should be sure to show it to your doctor. Learn the symptoms of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry – The shape of the mole is different on one side than it is on the other.
- Borders – The edges of the mole do not form a recognizable shape.
- Color – The mole is not one solid color. Rather, it can be different shades of light or dark brown, black, white or red.
- Diameter – The mole is larger than 6mm (or about the size of a pencil eraser).
- Evolving – The mole changes in size, shape, or color.
In addition, skin cancer symptoms include irritation or bleeding.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers
Our team of dermatologists, surgical oncologists and medical oncologists have years of training and experience treating patients with non-melanoma skin cancers. We use a multidisciplinary approach to provide you the highest level of care based on the newest data and treatment approaches. We provide care for all skin cancers. Listed below are some of the more common skin cancers that we manage.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Kaposi Sarcoma
- Mucinous / Sweat Gland Carcinoma
- Microcystic Adnexal Carcinoma
- Extramammary Paget Disease
- Other Cutaneous Adnexal Tumors
Watch Stan Sher’s Journey with Advanced Melanoma and Immunotherapy
Make an Appointment
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a melanoma specialist, call our scheduling line:
Meet the Team
- Min Deng, MD
- Christine Dewitt, MD
- Michael Cardis, MD
- Helena B. Pasieka, MD
- Maral Kibarian Skelsey, MD
Find a melanoma specialist or skin cancer expert at MedStar Georgetown to meet your individual treatment needs.
Awards & Recognition
The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Washington, D.C. region.