Treatment

Here is Premier Health’s commitment to your patients with skin cancer.

Premier Health is dedicated to patient-focused skin cancer treatment with advanced technology, innovative programs, and expert caregivers conveniently located throughout Southwest Ohio.

If you have melanoma, our Premier Health cancer specialists will customize your melanoma treatment based on many factors, including how deeply your melanoma tumor has grown or if the cancer has spread. Melanoma can be aggressive and metastasize (spread) to lymph nodes and almost any solid organ of the body.

If you have a nonmelanoma skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, treatment will most often consist of a simple in-office surgical procedure to remove the skin cancer. The procedure uses a local anesthetic to numb your skin. Often, no other treatment is needed. If you’re unable to undergo the procedure, other treatment options are available.

How We Treat Melanoma

 

We’ll consider the type, size, and stage of your melanoma, plus your age and overall health, to recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:

  • Surgery to remove the primary (main) tumor or other tumors
  • In advanced cases, possibly chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill or stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to prevent or delay your cancer's return
  • Symptom management for pain or other cancer-related symptoms

We also may use molecular testing to assess your personal risk of melanoma recurrence based on your individual tumor biology. This tool can identify high-risk melanoma tumors and is helpful in directing treatment and follow-up care.

Your doctor may draw on the experience of our Premier Health Multidisciplinary Treatment Conference, where specialists from the cancer care team meet to review and discuss your medical condition and treatment options.

As a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center, we may also present your case to the MD Anderson Multidisciplinary Planning Conference or consult with an MD Anderson cancer expert.

Surgery

Surgical excision (surgical removal) of a tumor is the primary treatment for most stages of melanoma, including recurrent melanoma. A wide excision is used to remove the melanoma from your skin along with some of the normal tissue around it. Direct closure or skin grafting (taking skin from another part of the body to replace the skin that is removed) may be done to cover a wound caused by surgery.

Premier Health surgical oncologists collaborate with our team of plastic surgeons, who are experienced in techniques to remove cancerous skin lesions to preserve appearance. A plastic surgeon may also be part of your care team if your tumor is located on a difficult area of the body – such as the lip or ear – or in cases involving extremely large excision.

It’s important to know whether cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. If your tumor’s characteristics justify it, we also perform sentinel lymph node biopsy and mapping at the same time as surgery. We do this to check for cancer in the sentinel lymph node (the first lymph node cancer is likely to spread to). If cancer is found in the sentinel lymph node, more lymph nodes may be removed at a later date.

Medical Therapies

Medical therapies often provide additional ways to eradicate cancer cells. We have several comfortable outpatient infusion centers where you can receive treatment. In some locations, we offer massage therapy, art therapy, and other services.

At Premier Health, we offer these medical therapies to help in treating certain cases of melanoma:

Chemotherapy, which can be given as pills, an injection, or through an IV, is used to stop the growth and spread of skin cancer cells. Chemotherapy helps kill any remaining cancer cells that can’t be detected during surgery. We aggressively treat not only your cancer but also the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea or pain.

Immunotherapy/biological therapy boosts your immune system to increase your body’s natural ability to fight cancer. It’s used when cancer cells have tested positive for specific gene changes, and it’s one of the most significant changes in melanoma treatment.

Tumor-targeted therapy involves analyzing your cancer and selecting a combination of drugs to combat your specific type of skin cancer. At Premier Health, we offer several targeted therapy options. Not everyone is a candidate for targeted therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation beams of intense energy to destroy cancer cells, while keeping normal tissue safe. It also may be used to help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. At Premier Health, we offer two types of radiation therapy for people with skin cancer, including:

  • Electron Beam Radiation Therapy. A type of external beam radiation, this therapy uses electron beams, which have limited range and depth. It’s well suited for skin cancer since these tumors are mostly limited to a superficial area. Your radiation oncologist will circle the area on your skin to be treated. A CT scan will identify the treatment area and help our radiation experts design your customized treatment plan. You’ll receive treatments over several days.
  • High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy. In HDR brachytherapy, a high-activity miniature (1mm thick) radioactive source is placed right next to your tumor. This allows us to deliver precise, highly-localized radiation directly to your tumor, minimizing damage to nearby normal tissue. You’ll receive treatment over several days, with each session taking only a few minutes.

Interventional Radiology

Our interventional radiologists are specially trained to offer you advanced treatments and procedures for difficult-to-treat tumors – and in certain cases of recurrent melanoma – using image-guided therapies.

Often referred to as interventional oncology, this treatment is one of the newest and most aggressive options in cancer treatment today. It targets and treats cancers that cannot be treated surgically. Instead, radiologists use extreme heat, cold, or microwave energy to kill tumors. There is a low risk of complications, and many people return home the same day.

Palliative Care

When treatments no longer are effective against cancer, Premier Health offers palliative care to help improve quality of life and ease the symptoms of cancer.

Clinical Trials

Our cancer specialists actively participate in regional, national, and international research networks. Clinical trials provide another option when standard treatments are not working. Our goal is to connect you with the latest advances in cancer care. Check our current list of clinical trials.

Your Skin Cancer Care Team

Treating melanoma requires a team approach. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists communicate regularly to discuss your diagnosis, treatment plan, and treatment progress. We have specialized tumor conferences routinely to discuss complex cases.

Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center, the top-ranked cancer center in the United States.

As an affiliate of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, Premier Health and our certified cancer specialists routinely discuss challenging cases with experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

If you have an unusual or complex situation, your physician may consult with a cancer expert at MD Anderson to receive input on your case.

We also have pathologists to assist with diagnosis and cancer staging throughout your cancer journey. As needed, we’ll consult with our wound care centers.

Contact Us

Premier Health offers an extensive network of experienced cancer specialists, close to home, who welcome your referrals. Find a cancer specialist best suited to your patient’s unique needs.

Our cancer specialists have access to nationally recognized cancer care protocols and best practices, since Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center.