Skin Cancer

Skin cancer strikes more people worldwide than any other form of cancer. Although skin cancer is more common in fair-skinned people, anyone can develop it.

The main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, especially when too much time is spent in the sun. Avoiding sun overexposure is the best defense against skin cancer. Catching skin cancer early can provide a better chance for successful treatment. Learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for skin cancer. 

Pamela Belko shares her skin cancer story in the hopes that others will learn how important it is to be sun-safe!

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

What to look for
  • First, check if any moles fit the ABCDE rules. These rules can help you tell if a mole should be checked by your doctor. The ABCDE rules are:
  • Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • Border irregularity. The edges of the mole are ragged or irregular.
  • Color. The mole has different colors in it. It may be tan, brown, black, red, or other colors. Or it may have areas that appear to have lost color.
  • Diameter. The mole is bigger than 6 millimeters across, about the size of a pencil eraser. But some melanomas can be smaller.
  • Evolving. A mole changes in size, shape, or color.
Other signs and symptoms that may be skin cancer include:
  • A mole or skin mark that itches or is sore.
  • A mole or skin mark that oozes, bleeds, or becomes crusty.
  • A mole or skin mark that looks different from your other moles or skin marks.
  • A sore that doesn't heal.
  • A mole or sore becomes red or swells at its edges or beyond.
When to call your health care provider

Watch for any changes in any moles or skin marks on your body and pay attention to new moles or skin marks that appear. If any of them fit the ABCDE’s or other criteria, see your health care provider right away. Schedule your appointment by calling 1-800-INSPIRA

Treatments for Skin Cancer

Inspira Health offers comprehensive care for melanoma and other skin cancers. The choice of treatment is based on a variety of factors including tumor type, size, location, and the patient's age and overall health. Your dermatologist can perform some of the local treatment for your skin cancer, however, for deeper or larger areas we offer wide excision of the cancer with complex reconstruction or skin grafts. 

Dr. Kulkarni works with a multidisciplinary team who may be able to discuss additional treatment options, including immunotherapy, targeted therapy or radiation therapy, which are provided by cancer specialists at Inspira. All patients’ diagnoses and treatment options are discussed in depth at multidisciplinary tumor board meetings, ensuring adherence to national guidelines. 

You can discuss additional treatment options at one of our cancer centers below: 

Inspira Frank and Edit Scarpa Regional Cancer Pavilion
1505 West Sherman Ave
Vineland, NJ 08360

Inspira Medical Center Woodbury
509 North Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096

Treatment of Melanoma 

Melanomas are commonly treated with surgery. Some patients may be candidates for immunotherapy that helps a person’s own immune system destroy the cancer cells more effectively. Patients may also benefit from new biologic agents that specifically target parts of melanoma cells. Chemotherapy or radiation may be indicated in select situations, especially in advanced melanomas, or in melanomas that do not respond to immunotherapy or targeted therapy.

Generally, melanomas are diagnosed by the patient’s primary care physician or a dermatologist. A dermatologist can also provide treatment for many skin cancers, including some small early stage melanomas. The specialized training of a surgical oncologist may be needed for deeper, larger and later-stage tumors. Nandini Kulkarni, M.D., F.A.C.S., is Inspira’s Director of Surgical Oncology and an expert in the treatment of skin cancer. She has experience treating advanced skin cancers and is able to perform larger excisions, including those requiring complex reconstruction or skin grafts.

Treatment of later-stage melanomas may also involve testing of the lymph nodes with a sentinel node biopsy. Occasionally, if the melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes, it might be necessary to surgically remove all of the lymph nodes in that region. Advanced imaging like a PET scan or MRI may be necessary in these cases to look for the spread of melanoma to other parts of the body.

Your Treatment Team

Depending upon the specific nature of your skin cancer, your care team may include cancer specialists from different disciplines. These doctors may include:

  • a dermatologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the skin;
  • a surgical oncologist (or oncologic surgeon): a doctor who uses surgery to treat cancer;
  • a medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy; and/or
  • a radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.

Many other specialists might be part of your care team as well, including a physician assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP or APN), dietitian, social worker, genetic counselor, and other health professionals. At Inspira, your cancer services team will always include a nurse navigator who will help you and your team coordinate your care. Your primary care doctor will also continue to play a critical role in your care, especially after treatment.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Nandini Kulkarni to discuss treatment options by calling  1-800-INSPIRA

  Source American Cancer Society

Health Library
Melanoma Skin Cancer Quiz