The OHSU Department of Dermatology surgeons offer exceptional expertise in the management of skin cancer such as melanoma, high-risk basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and various rare tumors. Our surgeons are fellowship trained and are nationally and internationally known for their expertise. Our surgeons also provide an additional benefit for patients as they are skilled at reconstructive surgery, which eliminates the need to see other specialists for most patients.
In addition to skin cancer, our surgeons treat many other skin conditions that require surgery and provide laser and cosmetic surgery. If your doctor has referred you to OHSU for skin cancer treatment, you can trust our surgeons to provide you with the expertise you've come to expect from OHSU.
As the most common type of cancer, many people will experience skin cancer in their lifetime, but it is most common in people who spend a lot of time in the sun, as the effect of sunlight is cumulative. The more sunlight your skin has been exposed to, the higher your lifetime risk for developing skin cancer. Other risk factors include having light-colored skin, hair and eyes, having a close family member with skin cancer, or being over age 50, among others.
The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, as it may spread if not treated early. Skin cancers are frequently divided into two types: melanoma and non-melanoma. There are various options for treatment, depending on the type and location of your tumor. Most commonly, patients are referred to OHSU for Mohs micrographic surgery, an advanced treatment procedure for skin cancer.
Mohs micrographic surgery offers the highest potential for skin cancer cure - even if the skin cancer has been previously treated. Performed as an out-patient procedure, Mohs micrographic surgery removes the affected area entirely while sparing the surrounding healthy skin. Mohs micrographic surgery is commonly used to remove large tumors, tumors in hard-to-treat places, recurrent tumors, and those occurring in areas where preservation of normal skin is essential (such as the tissue surrounding the eyes or nose). It is most commonly performed on basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and is useful on melanomas in some cases.
Our dermatologists will consult with patients to determine the best course of treatment for each individual.
Recommended treatments may include:
- Surgical removal
- Mohs micrographic surgery and reconstruction
- Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen freezing)
- Electrodesiccation and curettage (tumor is cut from the skin and electrical current stops bleeding and destroys cancer cells)
- Topical chemotherapy and immunotherapy
- Biologic therapy
- Radiation therapy
Treating melanoma requires complete removal of the cancer. Our dermatologists collaborate with an multidisciplinary melanoma team to determine if you need more treatment after cancer surgery. To learn more about this multidisciplinary approach, visit the Melanoma page within the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
Neil A. Swanson, M.D.