Skin Cancer Program
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and the incidence is increasing approximately 2% per year. Among the different types of skin cancers is melanoma, which is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths. In Maine, there are more than 500 new cases of melanoma projected per year with higher incidence rates found along the coast.
Maine Medical Center has the state’s only multi-disciplinary team of experts who meet monthly to review patients’ cases. This team includes skin cancer specialists in surgical oncology, medical oncology, dermatology, pathology, plastic surgery and radiation oncology. Together they conduct a complete review of clinical presentation, history, pathology, imaging, and treatment to date. The team then recommends the treatment and management of the patient’s skin cancer using their experience, the latest information from their colleagues around the country, and the evidence-based guidelines of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Types of skin cancer are:
- Basal Cell skin cancer
- Squamous Cell skin cancer
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Expert treatment begins with thorough evaluation to establish the most accurate diagnosis and stage, or extent, of disease. The Maine Medical Center Skin Cancer Program utilizes the latest techniques in radiology and pathology needed for this process, including CT, MRI and PET scans, ultrasound evaluation of lymph nodes, sentinel lymph node sampling, and molecular testing of biopsy specimens. Expert determination of your diagnosis and stage enables your team to develop a treatment plan that is custom fit to your unique clinical situation. We also offer genetic risk assessment through our Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic for patients with a family history of cancer that suggests a possible genetic or inherited predisposition to cancer.
There are several kinds of treatments for skin cancer, including the following:
- Topical treatments can be used to prevent or treat some forms of skin cancer. Topical treatments are treatments that are applied to the skin.
- Surgery is a common treatment for skin cancer. It is used in most cases. Some types of skin cancer growths can be removed very easily and require only very minor surgery, while others may require a more extensive surgical procedure.
- Radiation therapy is another treatment option for skin cancers. Radiation treatments can be used to cure most early non-melanoma skin cancers, to improve the chance of cure for melanoma, and to control symptoms for those that cannot be cured.
- Systemic treatments are medications that go all throughout the patient’s body to treat cancer that is too advanced to be cured by other methods alone. There are many types of systemic treatment and they are administered by various means, such as in pill form, or by injection under the skin (like a flu shot), or by intravenous injection (in a liquid injected through a tube inserted into a vein). In rare instances, these treatments are injected into a selected artery to deliver the medication to just one region of the body. Systemic treatments are used to cure some forms of skin cancer, even in advanced stages. Systemic treatments are used to palliate, or control, other forms of skin cancer that cannot be cured.