Skin Cancer

Comprehensive skin cancer diagnostic services, specialty consultations, treatments and clinical trials

IU Health experts provide full diagnostic services, specialty consultations, treatments and clinical trials for all stages of skin cancer. Our skin cancer specialists see patients in Indianapolis, Bloomington, Carmel, and many other Indiana locations.

What are the types of skin cancer?

There are several types of skin cancer. The type depends on the type of skin cell in which the cancer starts. The most common types of skin cancer include:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

The most aggressive skin cancer types include:

What are Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?

Exposure to ultraviolet light puts you at risk for all skin cancers. Risk can stem from exposure to the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds. Exposure occurs cumulatively, 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 “funny-looking” moles (for melanoma)

Types of Skin Cancer and Risk Factors

What are the types of skin cancer?

There are several types of skin cancer. The type depends on the type of skin cell in which the cancer starts. The most common types of skin cancer include:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

The most aggressive skin cancer types include:

What are Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?

Exposure to ultraviolet light puts you at risk for all skin cancers. Risk can stem from exposure to the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds. Exposure occurs cumulatively, 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 “funny-looking” moles (for melanoma)

How is Skin Cancer Detected?

Regular monitoring of your skin for new or changing skin spots can help you and your physician detect potential cancers. Each type of skin cancer has different appearances and behavior.

Your physician will skin cancer evaluation with a skin biopsy. A pathologist who specializes in evaluating skin will evaluate it. They will look through a microscope at the skin or tissue just below the skin. If they detect cancer, features of the cancer will help determine the treatment plan and prognosis.

If your physician suspects the cancer has spread, they may conduct a biopsy of another body part as well.

How Treatable is Skin Cancer?

With early detection, most forms of skin cancer are highly treatable. Many can be removed in a doctor’s office. The more aggressive skin cancers require more aggressive treatment.

How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

You can prevent skin cancer by incorporating a few simple practices into your life:

  • Practice sun avoidance, especially during the peak hours of 10 am until 2 pm.
  • Use sun protective clothing and hats.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it every two hours for extended sun exposure.

Staying out of the sun and protecting your skin is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Read more facts you need to know about skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Treatment Options

Your treatment options will depend on the type of skin cancer you have. At IU Health, physicians collaborate across multiple disciplines to ensure you receive comprehensive care and treatment for your skin cancer, as well as skin cancer removal after care.

You may have a dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon or surgeon to treat your basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Your physicians may use Mohs micrographic surgery to remove thin rims of tissue, one at a time, until they remove your cancer completely.

For Melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma treatment, your IU Health multidisciplinary team may address your cancer with radiation or immunotherapies.

Treatment for skin cancer in more advanced stages may include:

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, your physicians lead cancer care discoveries, giving 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, where staff care for your emotional, mental, social and spiritual needs.

Physicians at IU Health Simon Cancer Center lead research to improve cancer diagnosis techniques and treatments.

Skin Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

How is Skin Cancer Detected?

Regular monitoring of your skin for new or changing skin spots can help you and your physician detect potential cancers. Each type of skin cancer has different appearances and behavior.

Your physician will skin cancer evaluation with a skin biopsy. A pathologist who specializes in evaluating skin will evaluate it. They will look through a microscope at the skin or tissue just below the skin. If they detect cancer, features of the cancer will help determine the treatment plan and prognosis.

If your physician suspects the cancer has spread, they may conduct a biopsy of another body part as well.

How Treatable is Skin Cancer?

With early detection, most forms of skin cancer are highly treatable. Many can be removed in a doctor’s office. The more aggressive skin cancers require more aggressive treatment.

How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

You can prevent skin cancer by incorporating a few simple practices into your life:

  • Practice sun avoidance, especially during the peak hours of 10 am until 2 pm.
  • Use sun protective clothing and hats.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it every two hours for extended sun exposure.

Staying out of the sun and protecting your skin is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Read more facts you need to know about skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Treatment Options

Your treatment options will depend on the type of skin cancer you have. At IU Health, physicians collaborate across multiple disciplines to ensure you receive comprehensive care and treatment for your skin cancer, as well as skin cancer removal after care.

You may have a dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon or surgeon to treat your basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Your physicians may use Mohs micrographic surgery to remove thin rims of tissue, one at a time, until they remove your cancer completely.

For Melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma treatment, your IU Health multidisciplinary team may address your cancer with radiation or immunotherapies.

Treatment for skin cancer in more advanced stages may include:

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, your physicians lead cancer care discoveries, giving 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, where staff care for your emotional, mental, social and spiritual needs.

Physicians at IU Health Simon Cancer Center lead research to improve cancer diagnosis techniques and treatments.

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 Skin Cancer

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.

American Cancer Society

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

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.

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.

American Cancer Society

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

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.