Skin Cancer

We provide comprehensive diagnostic services, specialty consultations, treatments and clinical trials for all types and stages

Several types of skin cancer exist. The type depends on the type of cell in which the cancer starts. The most common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

The most aggressive types include melanoma and a rare Merkel cell carcinoma. IU Health experts provide full diagnostic services, specialty consultations, treatments and clinical trials for all stages of skin cancer.

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 Can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

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

  • You can practice sun avoidance, especially during the peak hours of 10 am until 2 pm.
  • You can also use sun protective clothing and hats or apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it every two hours for extended sun exposure.

By adopting these simple measures alone, you can prevent larger inconveniences or problems in your future.

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 use a skin biopsy to diagnose skin cancer. A pathologist who specializes in evaluating skin can detect skin cancer.

The evaluation includes a microscopic examination of a portion of skin, or tissue just beneath the skin. If he or she detects cancer, additional features of the cancer will help determine treatment and prognosis.

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

Understanding Skin Cancer

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 Can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

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

  • You can practice sun avoidance, especially during the peak hours of 10 am until 2 pm.
  • You can also use sun protective clothing and hats or apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it every two hours for extended sun exposure.

By adopting these simple measures alone, you can prevent larger inconveniences or problems in your future.

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 use a skin biopsy to diagnose skin cancer. A pathologist who specializes in evaluating skin can detect skin cancer.

The evaluation includes a microscopic examination of a portion of skin, or tissue just beneath the skin. If he or she detects cancer, additional features of the cancer will help determine treatment and prognosis.

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

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.

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.

Melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma tend to spread more aggressively. Your IU Health multidisciplinary team will help you beat your cancer with radiation or immunotherapies. If you have a more advanced stage of skin cancer, your physicians may suggest:

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, your physicians will 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.

What are 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.

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.

Melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma tend to spread more aggressively. Your IU Health multidisciplinary team will help you beat your cancer with radiation or immunotherapies. If you have a more advanced stage of skin cancer, your physicians may suggest:

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, your physicians will 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.

Patient Stories for Skin Cancer

American Cancer Society

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

Medline Plus

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.

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.

Resources

American Cancer Society

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

Medline Plus

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.

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.