Although skin cancer is common, a diagnosis can be frightening. Remember, at the Cancer Institute, you’re never alone. You will find treatment that is:
- Personalized: Our skilled team of dermatologists, oncologists, pathologists, and surgeons offer the latest targeted, minimally invasive surgeries or therapies pinpointed to the type of skin cancer you have.
- Patient-centric: Our Navigation Team helps coordinate appointments, answers questions about symptoms and treatment options, and provides logistical support if you need to travel. We help lift the burden of logistics so you can focus on getting better.
- Compassionate: Cancer treatment is a stressful time. Our compassionate team of caregivers is devoted to improving your quality of life, helping you understand treatment options, and keeping you comfortable every step of the way. Our robust support services help you live the best quality of life during treatment.
- Collaborative: Your treatment team works together to identify the right treatment for you, whether it’s surgery, medical oncology, or radiation therapy.
Fortunately, most skin cancers respond well to treatment. In fact, many basal and squamous cell cancers are very treatable. The Cancer Institute specializes in Mohs micrographic surgery, a noninvasive technique that has the highest cure rate for certain skin cancers.
Melanoma is a more aggressive form of skin cancer that can be life-threatening if left untreated. Our pathologists are skilled in melanoma detection. They are adept at staging and tracking its growth. This level of precision helps your team tailor a treatment option just right for you.
Mohs micrographic surgery
The Mohs surgery technique combines surgical removal of cancer with immediate, microscopic examination of the tissue. This process ensures that the surgeon removes only cancerous skin and preserves healthy skin. We typically use Mohs surgery for basal and squamous cell cancers. This intricate surgery has many advantages, including:
- A high cure rate: Mohs has a cure rate of 99 percent for certain cancers, the highest cure rate of all skin cancer treatment methods. It can also prevent skin cancer from coming back (recurrence).
- Thoroughness: After removing the tumor, we analyze the tissue under the microscope. If we see that more cancer cells remains, the surgeon can determine where more tissue needs to be removed. We repeat this process until the entire area is clear of tumor. We make sure to remove all skin cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
- Efficiency: Mohs allows for complete removal of the skin cancer and reconstruction the same day. Our plastic surgeons and radiation oncologists are available to complete the reconstruction process.
- Low risk: We give you local anesthesia before the procedure, eliminating the risks of general anesthesia. Complication rates are low.
Our highly skilled surgeons utilize the latest techniques and technologies. They collaborate closely with oncologists, dermatologists, and pathologists to determine the best surgical approach for you. Our advanced surgical options include:
- Cryosurgery: This technique uses liquid nitrogen to freeze small, early skin cancer and precancerous lesions called actinic keratosis.
- Excisional surgery: We surgically remove cancerous tissue and a very small area of surrounding healthy skin.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation: This form of surgery involves scraping away layers of cancer cells using a circular blade (curet). We then destroy any remaining cancer cells with an electric needle.
- Plastic and reconstructive surgery: This cosmetic surgical procedure helps restore your appearance after an excessive amount of skin or tissue has been removed.
Radiation therapy and medical oncology
If the cancer has spread, we use advanced treatments to stop cancer in its tracks:
- Radiation therapy: We deliver high-dose radiation beams directly to a tumor. Targeting only the tumor minimizes your overall radiation exposure. We are also the only radiation oncology network accredited in western Pennsylvania by the American College of Radiology. This accreditation means AHN meets specific guidelines for patient safety, quality control, and efficiency of equipment. You’re receiving the highest-quality treatment available.
- Immunotherapy: We may recommend oral immunotherapies for melanoma that has metastasized (spread) beyond the lymph nodes. Our oncologists are at the forefront of melanoma research and use the newest drug therapies, including new treatments like ipilimumab and pembrolizumab.
Call the AHN Cancer Help Line anytime at (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348 to schedule a cancer-related appointment or to just talk with our nurses about diagnoses, treatments, and side effects.