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Skin Cancer

Personalized Treatment | Research and Clinical Trials | Additional Patient Support

The cause of nearly half of all cancers in the United States, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounts for more than 196,000 cases of skin cancer annually. More than 5.4 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed nationwide each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Merkel cell cancer a less common form of skin cancer, results in approximately 1,500 new cases being diagnosed per year. Other less common skin cancers include those that occur around sweat glands, those that arise from the immune system, and those that originate in other organs but spread to the skin.

The experienced specialists at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center combine the most advanced scientific knowledge and technology with a comprehensive and compassionate approach to care. They create a program of personalized medicine and patient-centered care for each individual diagnosed with melanoma and other skin cancers, such as Merkel cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Drawing from the diverse experience of dermatologists, surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, researchers and a host of other highly trained healthcare professionals, the Kellogg Cancer Center team is dedicated to putting patients—and families—at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.

Personalized Skin Cancer Treatment

Critical to the diagnosis of many skin cancers—melanoma especially—is the identification of “genomic alterations.” DNA changes in your specific tumor may have a large impact on your treatment.  NorthShore features a nationally-recognized molecular oncology lab that performs genetic testing rapidly and on-site, making communication and treatment planning both quicker and more collaborative,

After a skin cancer diagnosis is made, our multidisciplinary team meets regularly in a multidisciplinary conference to discuss your case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. For melanoma and other aggressive forms of skin cancer, your team may include your medical oncologistsurgeon, dermatologist, radiation oncologist, geneticist, pathologist, nutritionist, pharmacist, interventional radiologist, social worker and researchers, all focused on you.  This "meeting of the minds" provides critical input, resulting in an individualized care plan outlining the best course of action for your care.

Our team of dermatologist surgeons and surgical oncologists provide surgical expertise. “Moh’s surgery” is performed by specially-trained dermatologic surgeons, allowing maximal removal of tumors and tumor cells while minimizing the removal of critical tissue and structures. Surgical oncologists perform standard wide local excisions and sentinel lymph node biopsy procedures to assess lymph nodes. Our surgeons also perform isolated limb infusions/perfusions for skin cancers involving or recurring in a single limb. NorthShore is one of the few institutions in the region capable of performing this procedure.

Immunotherapy now plays a major role in the treatment of all advanced skin cancers, especially melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In use at the Kellogg Cancer Center since 2011, commercially available immunotherapy drugs allow your immune system to recognize cancer cells as an abnormality. This triggers an attack on the cancer and in many cases, eliminates it. In 2020, more than 500 of our patients received immunotherapy medications, including many with skin cancer. NorthShore participates in and, at times, lead clinical trials that result in groundbreaking publications in this emerging field.

Research and Clinical Trials

For patients diagnosed with skin cancers, a vital research enterprise allows Kellogg Cancer Center patients access to the latest drugs and skin cancer treatment options, as well as a wide array of clinical trials, both at NorthShore and through the University of Chicago, where more than 800 of our attending physicians hold academic appointments. As an example, we currently have clinical trials of novel drugs available for stage III and stage IV melanoma, including many forms of immunotherapy.

NorthShore’s nationally recognized Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system offers a data warehouse that enables physicians and researchers to integrate molecular and genomics data with clinical data to determine a patient’s best course of treatment. This information—specific to each patient—helps create an individually tailored treatment plan based on the patient’s genetic makeup and type of cancer. This analysis is yielding new insights into complex diseases and identifying opportunities to improve patient outcomes, as well as addressing the risk factors in individual and family medical histories. Harnessing the power of NorthShore's EMR allows our physician-scientists to apply sophisticated analysis to patient records, evaluating outcomes from cases of melanoma and other skin cancers, and using that information to determine the most favorable skin cancer treatment options for each patient.

NorthShore is the first in the nation to provide our patients and their family members with Health Heritage, a secure tool that helps individuals create a complete family health history and personalized risk reports.

Additional Patient Support

Kellogg Cancer Center’s unique services and resources assist patients and family members with a variety of challenges they may face from skin cancer diagnosis, treatment and beyond. A wide array of support services are available to patients that include our integrative medicine services, financial advocacy and survivorship, to name a few.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.570.2112.