We know that the most effective way to treat advanced basal cell, squamous cell, and other forms of unusual, aggressive, or metastasized skin cancers is to receive care at a comprehensive cancer center that focuses on treating the person as a whole and maintaining quality of life. And that’s exactly what our Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Management Program offers.
Established in 2014, the program draws on the expertise of MSK’s world-class specialists in dermatology, Mohs surgery, head and neck surgery, surgical oncology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, medical oncology, pathology, radiation oncology, radiology, genetics, dentistry, nursing, and more.
Many of our patients are able to receive consultation and treatment over the course of a single day — and in one location — to make things more convenient and efficient. Our concentration of experts also helps us accelerate research and innovations in the field, so that all people with advanced skin cancer can ultimately benefit.
What We Offer
The treatment plan we recommend for you will depend on factors such as the type of skin cancer you have and where on the body it appears. Our multidisciplinary team of experts coordinates your care to ensure the best outcome as well as the best cosmetic and functional results.
Surgery is a key method of treating skin cancers. Several different approaches are available, including Mohs surgery, a procedure typically done by a dermatologist in which individual layers of cancer tissue are removed and examined under a microscope, and conventional surgery, which can be carried out by surgeons from a variety of specialties.
In our program, we’ve developed novel ways to combine Mohs surgery and conventional surgical techniques to decrease treatment time and in many cases complete reconstruction and return you to normal functioning more quickly.
People are often very concerned about whether an operation has successfully removed all cancerous tissue. For larger lesions, we’ve developed several approaches to help ensure this happens. For example, by combining noninvasive imaging using unique confocal microscopy with ultrasound we can establish exactly where a tumor begins and ends (its margins) before we start operating.
We also often use Mohs surgery to confirm where the edges of the tumor are before removing it, and offer an approach called rapid frozen-section margin analysis to determine if we’ve removed all of the cancer.
Techniques such as these enable us to perform reconstruction with confidence immediately after surgically removing a tumor.
Expertise in Reconstruction
We begin reconstruction planning before surgery, with experts in multiple specialties taking part to ensure that we provide you with your best reconstruction options without compromising your chance for a cure.
MSK plastic surgeons are experienced in simple reconstruction procedures as well as complicated operations like microvascular surgery to transplant skin from other parts of the body. Our ophthalmologist specializes in the reconstruction of eyelid defects, and our prosthetics experts help make sure that once you heal, you look the best that you can with any artificial body part you may need.
Advanced Imaging Technologies
Our noninvasive imaging program is led by a dedicated radiologist who takes part in assessing and planning your cancer treatment. In addition, our radiology group performs image-guided biopsies to test for cancerous tissue through minimally invasive means.
Treatments without Surgery
Whenever possible, we integrate photodynamic therapy, laser therapy, topical medications, and other nonsurgical treatments in the plan we design for each patient.
We offer new methods for delivering radiation therapy, available only at MSK, which shorten the course of treatment without compromising your chance for a cure. In addition, we use cutting-edge technology to minimize side effects.
Our medical oncologists specialize in integrating drug therapy to improve your outcome. We also have the ability to assess genetic changes in tumors and use this information to deliver personalized therapy which in some cases includes participation in a clinical trial.
Focus on Quality of Life
Nurses play an integral role in our program, helping to coordinate your appointments, communicate important information to various members of your care team, and keep track of other details related to treatment. They’re aware of and sensitive to your self-image and needs as you go through the process of deciding how to have your cancer removed, and adjusting to how you’ll look once treatment is done.
As part of MSK’s mission to uncover new ways to treat and prevent skin cancers, the world-renowned researchers in our group are exploring new ways to identify genetic markers and other changes that can help us develop novel approaches that benefit everyone.
Caring for You Long-Term
Because we know that many of the people treated in our program remain at increased risk for developing other skin cancers, we’ve made screening and prevention key parts of our follow-up.
We’re also developing new methods for keeping people cancer free over the long-term by using computerized imaging and screening tests at regular intervals. This approach enables us to detect new cancers at the earliest possible stage, when it’s easiest and least intrusive to address the recurrence.
As a comprehensive research and cancer care institution, we are often able to provide the latest medicines and techniques to help prevent skin cancer from returning.