Melanoma, Skin Cancer | Symptoms and Treatments | MedStar Health
A dermatologist examines the skin of a patient in a clinical setting

Melanoma, or skin cancer, is a cancer that starts in the deep layers of skin with the cells that produce pigment. While it is aggressive and potentially life-threatening, most cases are caught early and are curable. Treatment for early-stage melanoma or skin cancer is usually possible with a simple surgery, and often during the initial biopsy used to diagnose the disease.

Our expert dermatologic oncologists welcome the chance to help you with an initial diagnosis or offer a second opinion.

Our team of fellowship-trained surgical oncologists has years of training and experience treating people with cancer. We use the latest research findings to care for patients and offer the most advanced cancer clinical trials.

We believe in a multidisciplinary approach, and work with specialists in a variety of fields to offer you the highest standard of care.

Types of melanoma

Malignant melanoma affects people in several different ways. These ways include: 

  • Superficial spreading: This common type of melanoma appears as a smooth shape with uneven borders. It can be bluish or brownish.

  • Lentigo maligna: This type of melanoma generally affects older adults and appears as flat and brown on the arms, face, and neck.

  • Nodular: This type of melanoma is bumpy and can either be black, blue, red, or even colorless.

  • Acral lentiginous: This type of melanoma typically affects the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

Our team of dermatologists, surgical oncologists and medical oncologists have years of training and experience treating patients with non-melanoma skin cancers. We use a multidisciplinary approach to provide you the highest level of care based on the newest data and treatment approaches. We provide care for all skin cancers. Listed below are some of the more common skin cancers that we manage.

  • Merkel Cell Carcinoma
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Kaposi Sarcoma
  • Porocarcinoma Mucinous / Sweat Gland Carcinoma
  • Hidroadenosarcoma
  • Microcystic Adnexal Carcinoma
  • Extramammary Paget Disease
  • Other Cutaneous Adnexal Tumors

Melanoma symptoms

Certain types of moles can indicate the presence of malignant melanoma. If the mole has any of what we call the “ABCDEs of melanoma,” you should be sure to show it to your doctor. Learn the symptoms of skin cancer:  

  • Asymmetry: The shape of the mole is different on one side than it is on the other. 
  • Borders: The edges of the mole do not form a recognizable shape. 
  • Color: The mole is not one solid color. Rather, it can be different shades of light or dark brown, black, white, or red. 
  • Diameter: The mole grows in size. 
  • Evolving: The mole changes in size or color. 

In addition, skin cancer symptoms include irritation or bleeding. 

Screening and prevention

MedStar Health offers the most advanced screening technologies for cancers of all types. Accurate screening is key to detecting cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Learn more.

Some skin cancers can be prevented through self-exam, regular screening, and controlling exposure to sunlight.

Learn more about preventing skin cancer.

Melanoma or skin cancer treatment

At MedStar Health, you get a timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment options designed for your specific circumstances. Our melanoma treatment features:

  • Comprehensive, innovative therapy: We offer the full range of treatment options, including more complex surgeries for advanced melanoma and direct, high-dose chemotherapy to save limbs where multiple tumors have returned.

  • Clinical trials and research: Our doctors and scientists continue to improve the way melanoma is diagnosed and treated, and provide access to promising therapies not always available through other networks and centers. One study is looking at photodynamic therapy — making cancerous cells more sensitive to light, then killing them with a laser.

  • Follow-up care: Unfortunately, melanoma can return to the same place even if cured, and patients are also at higher risk of developing other skin cancer. That’s why we make sure you get regular checkups to protect your health.

  • Reconstruction and restoration: Our team includes top plastic surgeons, in case the cancer is located in a cosmetically sensitive area or requires the removal of a larger amount of skin and repair afterward.

Learn more about skin cancer treatments

Learn more about melanoma and other skin cancer clinical trials

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Expert oncology care

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MedStar Health delivers comprehensive skin cancer services in a variety of locations, close to where you live and work.

Find a location near you.

Additional information

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Awards & Recognition

The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Washington, D.C., region.

Patient Services

Watch Stan Sher’s journey with advanced melanoma and immunotherapy

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