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Melanoma and Skin Cancers

The Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at UI Health provides comprehensive, compassionate care to patients with all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, common skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma, porocarcinoma, and sebaceous carcinoma. Our skin cancer team consists of specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology, dermatology, dermatopathology, and ophthalmology, and we use innovative technologies to diagnose and treat skin cancer.

We provide a full skin examination to assess any spots or lesions on the skin. Using advanced imaging technology, suspicious moles and lesions can be scanned, photographed, and recorded for accurate monitoring and follow-up. From traditional surgeries to clinical trials of innovative drug therapies, we offer a full range of effective treatment options.

About Melanoma

Melanoma is a cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes and surrounding tissue form noncancerous growths called moles. Moles are quite common, and most people have between 10 and 40 moles. Melanoma occurs when melanocytes become malignant and invade invading adjacent tissue. Characteristics of suspicious-looking moles or dark spots may become melanoma include:

  •  Uneven shape or coloration
  •  Ragged, blurred, or notched edges
  • Changes in size
  • Bleeding, itching, or painful spots
  • Changes in texture, becoming lumpy, shiny, waxy, smooth, or ulcerated
  • New moles

Who's at risk?

Anyone can get melanoma, even people with darker-toned complexions and those who tan without burning. However, research has shown that people with certain physical and hereditary factors are at greater risk than others.

Risk factors include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) radiation, including tanning beds
  • History of one or more severe, blistering sunburns
  • Fair skin
  • More than 50 ordinary moles
  • Unusual and irregular-looking moles (dysplastic nevi)
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Past history of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma

Although the chance of developing melanoma increases with age, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults.