Skin Cancer

Planning Treatment

Many Treatment Options

There are many treatment options for people with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. The choice of treatment depends on your age and general health, the site of the cancer, the stage of the cancer, whether or not it has spread beyond the original site, and other factors.

If tests show that you have cancer, you should talk with your doctor and make treatment decisions as soon as possible. Studies show that early treatment leads to better chances for successful outcomes.

In some cases, all of the cancer is removed during the biopsy, and no further treatment is needed. For others, more treatment will be needed, and a doctor can explain all of the treatment options.

Working With a Team of Specialists

A person with skin cancer, particularly if it is melanoma, is often treated by a team of specialists. The team will keep the primary doctor informed about the patient's progress. The team may include a medical oncologist (a specialist in cancer treatment), a dermatologist (a specialist in skin problems), a surgeon, a radiation oncologist (a specialist in radiation therapy), and others.

Before starting treatment, you may want another doctor to review the diagnosis and treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion. Others may pay for a second opinion if you request it.

Plan Ahead for Doctor Visits

When planning your skin cancer treatment, you may meet with many different health care providers, get lots of information, and have lots of questions. Plan ahead for doctor appointments by writing down your questions and bringing a paper and pen to take notes.

Sometimes it also helps to bring a friend or family member to your doctor appointments so they can help you listen, take notes, ask questions, and give you support.

Clinical Trials for Skin Cancer

Some skin cancer patients take part in studies of new treatments. These studies, called clinical trials, are designed to find out whether a new treatment is safe, effective, and better than the current standard of care.

Often, clinical trials compare a new treatment with a standard one so that doctors can learn which is more effective. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through its National Library of Medicine and other Institutes, maintains a database of clinical trials at ClinicalTrials.gov.

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