Today, there are more treatment options than ever for melanoma and other skin cancers. If melanoma or suspicious tissue is detected during screening and examination, the Melanoma and Skin Care Program at UI Health will recommend and build a personalized treatment plan. Treatments and therapies are based on the stage of the growth/tumor, as well as individual medical history.


Mohs Surgery

Mohs surgery is used in areas such as the face where every millimeter of skin is at a premium and must be preserved. During this procedure, a small layer of tissue is removed and then examined; this process is then repeated until the tissue is free of cancer. Mohs micrographic surgery conserves the most tissue possible by precisely removing cells layer by layer, and it has the highest rate of success in treating basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

Skin Cancer Surgery

Surgery is usually the first treatment for melanoma or skin cancer. If melanoma is detected early, surgical removal of the tumor — known as resection or excision — is likely to be successful. Surgical treatments include the following:

Simple Excision: Highly abnormal precancerous moles or other skin lesions may require only simple excision. They are surgically removed along with their margins.

Wide Local Excision: A wider excision is required after the lesion has been diagnosed as melanoma. Depending on its thickness, an excision of .05-2 cm is made around the tumor, and the cancerous tissue and margins are sent to pathology. Further surgery may be required, such as sentinel lymph node biopsy or other treatment options.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

Sentinel lymph node biopsy is performed in patients with melanomas greater than 1 mm thick or with smaller tumors that show characteristics of ulceration or active growth. During surgery, a radioactive solution or colored dye (or both) is injected near the tumor as a way to find the sentinel lymph nodes.

The nodes bearing the dye are removed and sent for biopsy. If cancer is present, more lymph nodes may be removed.


Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. It can be administered orally, topically, or intravenously, targeting cancer cells throughout the body.


Immunotherapy uses medications to boost the body's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. It helps the immune system attack cancer cells while sparing normal cells.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy uses a photosensitizing agent and a specific type of light to target and destroy cancer cells. This treatment option is often used for superficial skin cancers and can be less invasive than surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy, targeting specific areas affected by skin cancer.

Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies are medications that target specific molecules or pathways involved in cancer growth and survival. They can block the growth and spread of cancer cells with fewer side effects on normal cells.

Field Cancerization Therapy

Field cancerization therapy aims to treat large areas of skin affected by pre-cancerous changes or multiple skin cancers simultaneously, often using topical treatments or techniques like photodynamic therapy.

Topical Therapy

Topical therapies involve applying medications directly to the skin's surface to treat early-stage skin cancers or precancerous lesions. They can include creams, gels, or ointments containing medications like chemotherapy agents or immune modulators.