Melanoma

Our experts provide complete diagnostic services, consultations, treatments and clinical trials for all stages of the disease.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin or the pigment that gives skin its color. Oncologists consider melanoma one of the most aggressive types of skin cancer.

More common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Melanoma Risk Factors

A common risk factor for melanoma and all others skin cancers includes exposure to ultraviolet light. This risk can stem from exposure to the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds. Exposure occurs over your lifetime. Other risk factors include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Personal history of a prior skin cancer
  • Skin cancer in the family
  • High mole count or abnormal-looking moles (for melanoma)

Diagnosis

At IU Health, your physicians will diagnose melanoma using a skin biopsy. If they detect cancer and suspect it has spread, they will perform an additional biopsy from another area of your body. One or more of the following tools can help your physicians diagnose melanoma and other skin cancers:

  • Clinical exam. Looks for moles, birthmarks or other areas that look abnormal in color, size, shape or texture.
  • Blood testing. Measures certain substances in the blood that may indicate cancer or organ dysfunction.
  • Radiographic studies. Evaluate abnormalities with pictures of certain parts of the body. This includes technology such as computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or X-ray.
  • Sentinel node biopsy. Locates, removes and examines the sentinel lymph node(s), or the first lymph node(s) from which cancer cells likely spread.

Understanding Melanoma

More common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Melanoma Risk Factors

A common risk factor for melanoma and all others skin cancers includes exposure to ultraviolet light. This risk can stem from exposure to the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds. Exposure occurs over your lifetime. Other risk factors include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Personal history of a prior skin cancer
  • Skin cancer in the family
  • High mole count or abnormal-looking moles (for melanoma)

Diagnosis

At IU Health, your physicians will diagnose melanoma using a skin biopsy. If they detect cancer and suspect it has spread, they will perform an additional biopsy from another area of your body. One or more of the following tools can help your physicians diagnose melanoma and other skin cancers:

  • Clinical exam. Looks for moles, birthmarks or other areas that look abnormal in color, size, shape or texture.
  • Blood testing. Measures certain substances in the blood that may indicate cancer or organ dysfunction.
  • Radiographic studies. Evaluate abnormalities with pictures of certain parts of the body. This includes technology such as computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or X-ray.
  • Sentinel node biopsy. Locates, removes and examines the sentinel lymph node(s), or the first lymph node(s) from which cancer cells likely spread.

At IU Health, your team of specialists will meet weekly to discuss your case and develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Your treatment options will include one or more of the following. It'll depend on the most current treatment, your stage of cancer and your individual needs:

  • Surgical excision. Most common treatment for melanoma. Removes the cancer plus a border of surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Radiotherapy. Uses energy beams to kill cancer cells. This may reduce the risk of recurrence at a particular site and may reduce pain or bleeding.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT). Precisely directs a large dose of radiation to a tumor without affecting normal tissue.
  • Gamma-knife radiosurgery. Uses specialized equipment aimed at a tumor from many angles in a single treatment.
  • Systemic therapies. Medicines used for more advanced melanoma work in different ways to kill or control cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapies. Damage various parts of the cancer cell in an effort to destroy them.
  • Immunotherapies program. Your immune system fights the cancer.
  • Molecularly targeted therapies. Attack various pathways in cancer cells to stop their functioning.

If you have melanoma, your physicians will see you in consultation during a weekly clinic with experts in several disciplines.

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, your physicians lead cancer care discoveries. This gives you access to highly skilled doctors and advanced diagnostic and treatment options. You will also benefit from clinical trials and compassionate support through the CompleteLife Program. The CompleteLife Program staff care for your emotional, mental, social and spiritual needs.

You will likely need long-term follow-up care for melanoma and other advanced skin cancers.

Melanoma Research

Physicians at IU Health Simon Cancer Center lead research to improve cancer diagnosis techniques and treatments. Learn more about cancer research at IU Health and see if you qualify to participate in advanced clinical trials.

What are Treatment Options for Melanoma?

At IU Health, your team of specialists will meet weekly to discuss your case and develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Your treatment options will include one or more of the following. It'll depend on the most current treatment, your stage of cancer and your individual needs:

  • Surgical excision. Most common treatment for melanoma. Removes the cancer plus a border of surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Radiotherapy. Uses energy beams to kill cancer cells. This may reduce the risk of recurrence at a particular site and may reduce pain or bleeding.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT). Precisely directs a large dose of radiation to a tumor without affecting normal tissue.
  • Gamma-knife radiosurgery. Uses specialized equipment aimed at a tumor from many angles in a single treatment.
  • Systemic therapies. Medicines used for more advanced melanoma work in different ways to kill or control cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapies. Damage various parts of the cancer cell in an effort to destroy them.
  • Immunotherapies program. Your immune system fights the cancer.
  • Molecularly targeted therapies. Attack various pathways in cancer cells to stop their functioning.

If you have melanoma, your physicians will see you in consultation during a weekly clinic with experts in several disciplines.

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, your physicians lead cancer care discoveries. This gives you access to highly skilled doctors and advanced diagnostic and treatment options. You will also benefit from clinical trials and compassionate support through the CompleteLife Program. The CompleteLife Program staff care for your emotional, mental, social and spiritual needs.

You will likely need long-term follow-up care for melanoma and other advanced skin cancers.

Melanoma Research

Physicians at IU Health Simon Cancer Center lead research to improve cancer diagnosis techniques and treatments. Learn more about cancer research at IU Health and see if you qualify to participate in advanced clinical trials.

Sep 20

It's cancer.

“It’s cancer.” Words no one ever wants to hear, especially when your life has been impacted by those words too many times. Misty Motter lost her mother to lung cancer in 2005. Her father was diagnosed with melanoma many years ago, and in late January, he was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and liver. Since his melanoma diagnosis, Motter’s father had always worried about his strawberry blond daughter with freckles. Motter did not worry as much but made a promise to her father after his recent diagnosis to get a checkup. Taking care of herself was not a top priority for the mother of four. “I always put my kids first,” shares Motter, 41, who admits to not having seen a healthcare provider, outside of while she was pregnant, since she was married 22 years ago. But as her father reminded her: Who will take care of your kids if something happens to you? Motter, of Lafayette, scheduled her appointment with family medicine physician, Noor Bakroun, MD. Bakroun took time to examined her from head to toe and ordered the standard preventative tests like a mammogram. Motter had a mole on her neck that she says has been there

It's cancer. image.

Patient Stories for Melanoma

Sep 20

It's cancer.

“It’s cancer.” Words no one ever wants to hear, especially when your life has been impacted by those words too many times. Misty Motter lost her mother to lung cancer in 2005. Her father was diagnosed with melanoma many years ago, and in late January, he was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and liver. Since his melanoma diagnosis, Motter’s father had always worried about his strawberry blond daughter with freckles. Motter did not worry as much but made a promise to her father after his recent diagnosis to get a checkup. Taking care of herself was not a top priority for the mother of four. “I always put my kids first,” shares Motter, 41, who admits to not having seen a healthcare provider, outside of while she was pregnant, since she was married 22 years ago. But as her father reminded her: Who will take care of your kids if something happens to you? Motter, of Lafayette, scheduled her appointment with family medicine physician, Noor Bakroun, MD. Bakroun took time to examined her from head to toe and ordered the standard preventative tests like a mammogram. Motter had a mole on her neck that she says has been there

It's cancer. image.

Skin Cancer Foundation

The Skin Cancer Foundation, an international organization, devotes itself to education, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment of the world’s most common cancer.

MedlinePlus

The National Institutes of Health provide this website for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it provides information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.

American Cancer Society

This website provides information about funding and conducting cancer research, patient support, and prevention.

Resources

Skin Cancer Foundation

The Skin Cancer Foundation, an international organization, devotes itself to education, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment of the world’s most common cancer.

MedlinePlus

The National Institutes of Health provide this website for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it provides information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.

American Cancer Society

This website provides information about funding and conducting cancer research, patient support, and prevention.