Skin cancer is diagnosed by performing a biopsy: the removal of a sample of tissue that is then placed under a microscope and examined by a pathologist. Sometimes, a biopsy can remove all the cancer tissue and no further treatment is needed.
Treatment of skin cancer depends on the type and extent of the disease. However, surgery is frequently used to treat many skin cancers, and it is standard treatment for melanoma. Mohs surgery is a technique used to treat certain non-melanoma skin cancers, and has been associated with a higher cure rate than other surgical techniques. It should be performed only by a dermatologic surgeon who is specially trained in Mohs surgery. Other treatments include cryosurgery, or freezing; drugs, including chemotherapy and biological response modifiers; laser therapy; radiation therapy; and clinical trials involving new treatment methods.
Skin cancer treatment often can involve more than one type of medical specialty, such as the combination of dermatology, plastic surgery, medical oncology, pathology, and radiation oncology. For this reason, finding a medical center with a multi-disciplinary team approach to diagnosing and treating skin cancer is important. In a multi-disciplinary environment, team members consult, discuss, and agree upon the diagnosis, and together determine the most appropriate treatment for each skin cancer patient.