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Melanoma Symptoms and Causes

The Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute is a leading referral center in the region for complex skin cancer care. Our medical staff has widely recognized expertise in the treatment of a broad array of conditions, from aggressive skin cancers such as locally advanced basal and squamous cell carcinomas, melanoma and merkel cell to skin appendage tumors, cutaneous myeloproliferative processes and extra-mammary Paget’s disease. These are complex conditions that frequently require a number of different treatment modes, and our expert team begins by educating patients about their treatment options.

As part of North Shore-LIJ Health System, our Center gives patients broad access to state-of-the-art diagnostic studies, all aspects of surgical care and extensive post-operative therapy options, including medical oncology, radiation therapy and a wide range of supportive services. Our clinicians and scientists collaborate with each other in an effort to develop personalized treatment options based on the specific characteristics of each patient’s tumor.

The Patient Experience

A diagnosis of an invasive skin cancer or malignant melanoma can be devastating. Fortunately, both are not only treatable, but when found early, curable. A key challenge of effective treatment is making sure the patient receives a thorough and timely evaluation of the disease, so he or she can choose the best course of treatment.

That’s why, within days of referral to the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers, each patient is evaluated, counseled, and provided with a definitive course of treatment and supportive care. We have specifically structured our program to ensure that all new patients are seen swiftly by key members of the multidisciplinary treatment team.

Our Teams of Specialists

Every effort is made to see new patients within days of being referred. From their first appointment through care, treatment and follow-up, our patients meet with the same melanoma specialists who will be involved in their care. These specialists may include:

  • Surgical oncologists — experienced in all aspects of surgery, including appropriate resections of the primary tumor, sentinel node mapping and biopsy; they also collaborate seamlessly with plastic surgeons for any needed reconstruction
  • Radiation oncologists — skilled at delivering optimal therapeutic doses to affected areas, while protecting healthy tissue
  • Medical oncologists — tasked with prescribing the most effective treatments, including targeted therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy
In addition, patients also benefit from evaluation by:
  • Dermatopathologists — providing microscopic and sub-microscopic assessment of cutaneous malignancies
  • Radiologists — responsible for imaging studies including whole body PET/CT scans, MRI, nuclear medicine and sonography
  • Cancer genetic counselors — experienced in determining the risks for inherited melanomas and other related malignancies
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners — specialized in meeting and anticipating the unique needs of cancer patients
  • Oncology social workers — dedicated to addressing psychosocial issues of cancer and treatment, including the emotional and spiritual aspect of the cancer experience
  • Nutritionists — dedicated to helping ensure patients optimize their diet and nutrition during treatment

Our Services

Patients who come to the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers benefit from a comprehensive set of multidisciplinary services, designed from the outset to treat the whole person:

  • Pathology slide reassessment
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Multidisciplinary consultation
  • Surgical oncology
  • Dermatopathology
  • Medical oncology
  • Radiation therapy
  • Cancer genetics counseling
  • Support and coping
  • Dietary/holistic assessment services
  • Clinical trials and research
  • Referral to specialists

A Dynamic Approach to Treatment

Our doctors don’t set a singular treatment goal. Rather, they define and redefine treatment goals linked to the patient’s needs, based on how the disease unfolds. Patients typically are classified by disease risk, based on the biology of their tumor and how our team can tailor treatment based on the specifics of their disease.

The Most Advanced Surgical Treatment of Skin Cancer

The highly experienced surgical oncologists at the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers are skilled and knowledgeable in the removal of not only the primary skin cancer lesion. but surrounding tissue and lymph nodes that may harbor additional deposits of tumor cells. And because patients don’t feel whole again until they look whole, our surgical oncologists work hand-in-hand with plastic surgeons to create the optimal cosmetic outcome.

A More Precise Approach to Radiation Therapy

The highly experienced radiation oncologists at the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers utilize advanced techniques such as stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiosurgery, intensity modulated radiation therapy, hypofractionated radiation and electron beam therapy. Our patient-centric approach recognizes that radiation therapy may not be necessary in all cases; however, these state-of-the-art options are available when deemed appropriate for a particular patient’s need.

Systemic Therapies and Investigative Approaches

Medical oncologists at the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers are highly experienced in delivering therapies to help prevent relapse. Our physicians are uniquely positioned to combine decades of experience with cutting-edge approaches. The Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers is one of the few facilities in the region with prior experience using new targeted treatments for advanced forms of melanoma. Along with our colleagues, we continue to combine experience with innovation to provide optimal treatment for you.

Contact information for the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers:

  • Surgical oncologists — (516) 487-9454
  • Radiation oncologists — (516 or 718) 470-7190
  • Medical oncologists — (516) 734-8866

Melanoma Clinical Trials

The North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute offers a full array of clinical trials. The result of this research not only impacts survival, but also enhances the quality of life. For more information about clinical trials for Melanoma, visit Cancer Clinical Trials.

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