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Skin Cancer

The shock you’ve got skin cancer.

The cancer care specialists who will help you make sense of it.

Skin cancer is a very common cancer, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s any less frightening. The thought you have any cancer opens up a world of confusion and worry. 

At OhioHealth, we’ll help you understand your skin cancer. We’ll help you sift through the overload of information that may be rushing through your mind from the research you’ve done about the different types of skin cancer and how they’re treated. And if you need support and guidance from navigating insurance issues to exploring your eligibility for clinical trials – we’ll be here for you. 

 Every member of our cancer care team, including our expert dermatologists, surgeons, oncologists and patient navigators, takes personal interest in your cancer care.

Skin Cancer Basics Treatments and Procedures

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is skin cancer and what causes it?

    A:

    Skin cancer occurs when healthy cells in the tissues of the skin grow abnormally. It typically originates in the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis.

    There are two general categories of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma.

    • Melanoma develops in melanocytes of the skin’s epidermis or outer layer. Melanocytes are responsible for creating the skin pigment or color.
    • Non-melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer, and include basal and squamous cell skin cancer.

    One of the greatest risk factors for developing skin cancer is exposure to natural (the sun) or artificial (tanning beds and sunlamps) ultraviolet light.  It is known that such exposure over time can lead to the development of skin cancer, but it doesn't mean that everyone exposed to UV light will develop skin cancer.

    What causes skin cancer remains unknown, but risk factors tell us a lot about how it can develop. You can read more about skin cancer risk factors at the National Cancer Institute.

  • Q: Is skin cancer treatable?

    A: Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer are treatable. Skin cancer treatment options and the outcome depend on which type of skin cancer you have – melanoma or non-melanoma – and whether or not it has spread. It also depends on your age and health. Your doctor can discuss the available treatment options with you, as well as expected results.
  • Q: Does OhioHealth offer skin cancer treatment?

    A: We treat melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. We provide patients who have skin cancer with the best skin cancer treatment available, which can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment options. Your OhioHealth cancer care team will work closely with you to determine the course of treatment that is best for your condition. Treatment for skin cancer depends on many variables, which can include the type of skin cancer you have, if and how deeply it has spread in the layers of the skin.
  • Q: How serious is my skin cancer diagnosis?

    A:

    It’s important to talk to your doctor about the seriousness of your skin cancer diagnosis. We understand this is the biggest question for someone newly diagnosed with any cancer, but the answer you’re looking for is individual to you and the type of your skin cancer. Only your doctor and other members of your cancer care team can provide these answers, with the detail and explanations you’ll want and need.

     Ask your doctor to explain the type of skin cancer you have. Ask if the cancer has spread and where. Share with your doctor your fears and concerns. Ask for information about support groups.  And consider bringing a friend or family member with you to the appointment so they can help you remember the information your doctor shares with you.

  • Q: What are the stages of melanoma skin cancer?

    A:

    According to the National Cancer Institute, the stages of melanoma skin cancer are based on the following:

    • The thickness of the tumor.
    • Whether the tumor is ulcerated (has broken the skin).
    • Whether the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes and if the lymph nodes are joined together (matted).
    • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

    The stages of melanoma according to the Institute are as follows:

    Stage O
    In stage O, abnormal melanocytes are found in the epidermis. These abnormal melanocytes may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called melanoma in situ.

    Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB.

    • Stage IA: In stage IA, the tumor is not more than 1 millimeter thick, with no ulceration.
    • Stage IB: In stage IB, the tumor is either: not more than 1 millimeter thick and it has ulceration; or more than 1 but not more than 2 millimeters thick, with no ulceration.

    Stage II is divided into stages IIA, IIB, and IIC.

    • Stage IIA: In stage IIA, the tumor is either: more than 1 but not more than 2 millimeters thick, with ulceration; or more than 2 but not more than 4 millimeters thick, with no ulceration.
    • Stage IIB: In stage IIB, the tumor is either: more than 2 but not more than 4 millimeters thick, with ulceration; or more than 4 millimeters thick, with no ulceration.
    • Stage IIC: In stage IIC, the tumor is more than 4 millimeters thick, with ulceration.

    Stage III
    In stage III, the tumor may be any thickness, with or without ulceration. One or more of the following is true:

    • Cancer has spread to one or more lymph nodes.
    • Lymph nodes may be joined together (matted).
    • Cancer may be in a lymph vessel between the primary tumor and nearby lymph nodes.
    • Very small tumors may be found on or under the skin, not more than 2 centimeters away from where the cancer first started.

    Stage IV
    In stage IV, the cancer has spread to other places in the body, such as the lung, liver, brain, bone, soft tissue or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Cancer may also spread to places in the skin far away from where the cancer first started.

    To learn more, please read the American Cancer Society’s How Melanoma Is Staged.

  • Q: What treatment options are available to me for skin cancer?

    A:

    Your treatment plan will be determined by what type of skin cancer you have. It also will depend on the characteristics of the cancerous growth, such as its location, its size and whether or not is has spread.

    Skin cancer is typically treated with surgery. A majority of skin cancer surgery cases can be performed in a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic. There are cases where surgery is followed up with biotherapy, chemotherapy and/or radiation.  

    At OhioHealth, we offer treatment for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer that includes chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and more.  Please visit our Treatments and Procedures information for Skin Cancer. Your cancer care team will assess your skin cancer condition and talk you through the options available to you.

  • Q: Where do I find more information on skin cancer?

    A:

    There’s a lot of information about skin cancer on the Web and in bookstores. We recommend you start with the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute for their comprehensive expertise.

    Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

    The American Cancer Society
    The National Cancer Institute

    Melanoma skin cancer

    The American Cancer Society
    The National Cancer Institute

Want more answers? Browse all of the OhioHealth cancer patient FAQs. General FAQ

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