Melanoma and Other Skin
Anyone can get skin cancer — whether you are young or old, spend most of your time indoors or are outside all summer. Receiving timely care gives you the best chances of healing. And that’s precisely what you’ll find with the Cancer Network of West Michigan.
We make it easier than ever to get nationally recognized skin cancer treatment right in your community. You receive services from trusted surgeons and other cancer specialists, along with the support you deserve.
Skin cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow rapidly. As skin cancer progresses, it penetrates deeper layers of skin and can spread to other organs. But early detection and treatment can help you become cancer-free.
Types of skin cancer we treat include:
- Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type, forms in cells that produce new layers of skin.
- Melanoma, the most aggressive form, develops in cells that give skin color (melanocytes) and spreads quickly.
- Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type, develops in the middle and outer layer of skin cells.
Melanoma and Skin Cancer Treatment Through the Cancer Network: Why Choose Us?
The Cancer Network helps you start healing sooner with care close to home. You benefit from the expertise of Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West, both award-winning organizations. University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center’s participation means care reflects recommendations from some of the nation’s leading cancer specialists.
The primary symptom is an abnormal-looking mole. Cancerous moles typically form in areas that get a lot of sun. These include your chest, arms, legs, shoulders and the scalp if you are bald. But cancerous moles can also occur in areas you wouldn’t suspect, like under a nail or the soles of your feet.
If we identify a mole that may be cancerous, the next step is to take a tissue sample (biopsy). Doctors who specialize in diagnosing cancer, pathologists, examine it under a microscope to confirm or rule out skin cancer.
For advanced skin cancer or growths that come back after treatment, we offer a range of therapies, including:
- Chemotherapy uses drugs and other substances to slow cancer cell growth.
- Radiation therapy directs powerful energy to a specific area to destroy cancer cells.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy removes a sample of tissue from a lymph node near the cancerous mole if there is concern it has spread.
- Reconstructive surgery restores function and appearance after removing large areas of tissue. Procedures may include covering a wound with a patch (graft) of skin from somewhere else on your body.
You know your skin best, which is why it’s important to perform periodic self-exams. Once a month, examine your skin in a well-lit area. If you find a suspicious growth, see your dermatologist right away for a mole check. It’s quick, painless and can give you peace of mind.
You and your doctor can use the ABCDE’s of skin cancer to identify abnormal moles:
- A = asymmetrical: Unlike moles that are often round, skin cancer takes on odd shapes.
- B = border: Moles have even borders. The edges of a cancerous mole may have scallops or notches.
- C = color: Noncancerous moles are solid brown. Suspicious growths may have different tones including uneven brown, tan, black, red, white or blue.
- D = diameter: Moles are typically no bigger than the width of a pencil eraser. Your doctor should assess any growth larger than this.
- E = evolving: When you have a mole, its appearance doesn’t change over time. Melanoma and other skin cancers do. They may get bigger, start bleeding or cause itching.
Cancer Network services are available at several locations across West Michigan. Each facility represents the full strength, compassion and expertise we have to offer. Our integrated approach makes it easier to receive care where you’re most comfortable — near home and loved ones.