Skin Cancer

Because nearly all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure, they’re the most common – and most preventable – cancers worldwide.

INTEGRIS Cancer Institute

The world's most common cancer.

Reduce Your Risk

Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, but it’s also one of the most preventable cancers. More than 90% of all cases of skin cancer are caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation. The more you reduce your exposure to this radiation by wearing sunscreen, limiting time under direct sunlight and avoiding tanning beds, the lower your risk for developing skin cancer.

The INTEGRIS Cancer Institute

There are three main types of skin cancer: Basal-cell, squamous –cell and melanoma. Basal cell is unlikely to spread, but squamous-cell skin cancer and melanoma are more aggressive. No matter what kind of skin cancer you might have, INTEGRIS Health and the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute behind you, with the region's foremost collection of therapies, physicians and specialists.

We're here for you every step of the way, from the first diagnosis and staging to treatment and even beyond – with rehabilitation designed specifically for cancer survivors. We know this can be a challenging time, so please ask your physician about any concerns or questions you might have.

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Understanding Skin Cancer

If you think you may have skin cancer, it’s best to talk with your physician. Symptoms associated with skin cancer could also be caused by a variety of other health problems – or could be entirely benign (harmless). Only a doctor can accurately diagnose their cause. Some of these symptoms include:

  • A change in the shape, coloration, or size of a mole.
  • A mole that feels tender to touch, hard, itchy or swollen.
  • Oozing or bleeding moles.

Regular self-examination is an important practice for finding skin cancer early. Changes in the skin may or may not be symptoms of skin cancer. If your doctor thinks you might have skin cancer, exams and tests will be required to reach an accurate diagnosis. This begins with your physician asking questions about your health history, symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease, and may continue with more in-depth tests:

  • Mole Mapping: A painless, noninvasive tool using digital photography to track changes in moles, which can be an early sign of melanoma.
  • Biopsy Collection: an examination of tissue removed from your body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease, like cancer.
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping: A way to determine if cancer cells have escaped the original tumor and spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • CT Scan: This test makes detailed 3-D pictures of your organs and tissues. You may receive contrast material by mouth and by injection into your arm or hand to helps the organs or tissues show up more clearly.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): a test that uses a large magnet, radio signals, and a computer to make images of organs and tissue in the body.

Several types of treatment can be used for skin cancer. Which may work best for you? It depends on a number of factors. These include the type, size, location, and stage of your cancer. Other important factors include your age, overall health and what side effects you find acceptable. Your doctor can answer any questions or concerns you have.


  • Cryosurgery: This technique uses very cold temperatures to kill cancer cells. Liquid nitrogen is placed on the skin or in an instrument called a cryoprobe. It is being evaluated as a surgical treatment for several types of cancer.
  • Excisional Surgery: an excisional biopsy is often used when a wider or deeper portion of the tissue is needed. Using a scalpel, a full thickness of skin or all of a large tumor may be removed for further examination. The wound is then sewn closed. An excisional biopsy is the method usually preferred when melanoma is suspected.
  • Curettage and Electrodessication: Performed daily by many dermatologists, family physicians, and general surgeons. This basic skin procedure involves using a sharp curette followed by electrodessication. For many indications, curettage and electrodessication has been replaced by curettage alone, as it yields similar cure rates and a better cosmetic outcome.
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Done to correct facial and body abnormalities caused by skin cancer. Usually, the goal of reconstructive plastic surgery is to improve body function. However, reconstructive plastic surgery may also be done to create a more normal appearance and improve self-esteem.

Radiation Therapy

  • Overview: Radiation Therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Types of radiation therapy include:
  • Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT): Uses frequent two and three-dimensional imaging to direct radiation therapy more accurately.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): Advanced, high-precision radiotherapy that uses computer-controlled linear accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor or specific areas within the tumor.
  • Tomotherapy or Helical Tomotherapy (HT): A type of radiation therapy in which the radiation is delivered slice-by-slice.

Medical Oncology

  • Overview: INTEGRIS medical oncology is a dedicated group of medical oncologists specializing in diagnosing and the caring for cancer patients with a variety of medicine options. These treatments are administered orally or intravenously depending upon the treatment plan developed by your multidiscipline cancer care team.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy’s main method of function is to interfere with cancerous cells’ ability to develop and multiply. A patient may be prescribed a combination of a few types of chemotherapy, and it may also be prescribed in tandem with additional treatments, like radiation or surgery.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy uses medicines that target specific parts of certain types of cancer cells, interfering with their ability to grow and survive. The therapies are specific to each person's cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: This is a way to use the body's immune system to help treat or prevent many health problems. It may be used to treat or manage cancer.

Other Treatments

  • Laser Therapy: Most commonly used to treat superficial cancers such as basal cell skin cancer and the very early stages of some other cancers
  • Photodynamic Therapy: a treatment that uses a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent which produces a form of oxygen that kills nearby cancer cells when exposed to a certain wavelength of light.

At INTEGRIS, we offer a wide variety of support programs and services along with the Troy and Dollie Smith Wellness Center to help patients with breast cancer and their loved ones manage the physical and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Support services for skin cancer include:

  • Mind, body therapies including acupuncture, massage, and yoga
  • Research and clinical trials
  • Nutrition consultations
  • Pastoral care, spiritual support and relaxation techniques
  • Resource Room
  • Clinical social work services
  • Counseling
  • Patient navigation and survivor care planning
  • Multi-disciplinary clinic coordination
  • Cancer screenings
  • Patient and family support groups

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