Treatment Programs

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Skin Cancer (Melanoma)

Skin cancer treatment at the internationally renowned Center for Melanoma offers novel therapies for individuals with advanced melanoma.

The Center for Melanoma integrates the most current knowledge of cancer genetics, world-class resources for diagnosing and staging skin cancers, and leading-edge treatment approaches to provide personalized care and support services to adults, adolescents and children diagnosed with invasive or non-invasive melanoma.

This program is recognized worldwide for the evaluation and treatment of:

  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Rarer forms of skin cancer

Innovative Approaches Our physicians and research scientists are recognized globally for developing new treatment approaches for melanoma and other skin cancers. These programs include:

  • The Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Clinic, the oldest continually operating multidisciplinary center in the country; specialists within this Center offer expert evaluations of melanoma and related conditions that may be cancerous, from the common to the very rare.
  • The Melanoma Genetics Program, which works to identify the genetic causes of skin cancer, and which provides genetic counseling for those with a strong family history of melanoma.
  • A melanoma drug discovery program that seeks to understand molecular targets within melanoma cells and identify new drugs capable of attacking those targets

Multidisciplinary Patient Care Each patient in the melanoma program is cared for by a multidisciplinary team of experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers. Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, your care team may include:

  • Dermatologists who monitor your overall skin health
  • Dermatopathologists with extensive experience diagnosing skin cancers
  • Medical oncologists who combine knowledge of the most promising research-based medical therapies with proven, standard treatment to offer the best options for each patient
  • Surgical oncologists skilled in the latest techniques for treating invasive and non-invasive melanoma
  • Reconstructive or plastic surgeons to help restore function and appearance post-surgery if necessary
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in cancer care
  • Psychiatric oncologists and Social workers experienced in helping with the cognitive side effects of cancer and treatment, as well the emotional and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience
  • A nutritionist to help you with questions about diet and nutrition during treatment
  • Palliative care providers to improve quality of life

Members of your care team meet regularly with you and your referring physician to ensure good communication and coordination of care.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancers Our dermatologists see a large number of melanoma patients and are highly expert at recognizing suspect moles and other lesions. They are early adopters of techniques and technologies that improve diagnostics and are on the forefront of evaluation and monitoring of melanoma and other skin cancers. The diagnostic and staging information provided by these specialists helps define the best treatment for your disease.

In addition, our world-renowned pathologists are leading research projects to improve diagnoses of melanoma and skin cancers, identify which patients are more likely to develop metastatic disease, and to determine the effectiveness of therapy early in the treatment program.

Excellence in Surgical Care Our surgeons offer the highest degree of clinical expertise available in the treatment of these cancers. Among the procedures offered here are:

  • Surgery and reconstruction for primary melanomas
  • Lymphatic mapping and sentinel node biopsy, which can determine if cancer has spread
  • Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion, in which doctors isolate blood flow from an affected limb and then treat the limb with high-dose chemotherapy.
  • Advanced plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Resection of melanoma metastases

Pioneering Radiation Therapies We are one of only a few centers in the country offering proton beam radiation. This approach is being used here for ocular melanoma, providing pinpoint accuracy to help preserve the eye in many cases. Your care team may suggest radiation therapy to reduce the size of tumors that are causing discomfort or interfering with your body’s functioning, or as an adjuvant therapy following removal of lymph nodes containing melanoma. Our radiation technologists are skilled at standard and novel technologies, including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Treating Cancer through Clinical Trials Clinical research is conducted at the Pigmented Lesion Clinic — a major center for melanoma patient care in the New England area and a leader in all aspects of melanoma investigation — and at the Cancer Center, which offers a wide array of experimental therapeutics for patients with advanced melanoma. Search open trials for melanoma.

Developing Better Therapies through Research Melanoma research underway at the Cancer Center is aimed at uncovering cancer-causing gene mutations and drugs that can target them. Studies include examining the effectiveness of existing targeted drugs, identifying tumor biomarkers which may improve management of melanoma in any stage, and studying the molecular basis beneath the link between UV exposure and melanoma and using this information to devise new prevention strategies. Learn more about melanoma research at the Cancer Center.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell cancer, sometimes called non-melanoma skin cancer, usually appears as a small, fleshy bump or nodule on the head, neck, or hands. Occasionally, these nodules appear on the trunk of the body, usually as flat growths.

Melanoma

Melanoma is a disease of the skin in which cancer cells are found in the melanocytes, the cells that produce color in the skin or pigment known as melanin.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that grows in the skin cells and accounts for more than 50 percent of all cancers.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Hensin Tsao, MD, recommends what you can do to protect your family from melanoma

Hensin Tsao, MD, Director of Mass General's Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Center explains how family history, genetic risks and personal health history can all affect your risk of melanoma, and what steps you should take to detect it at an early, treatable stage.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

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Learn about targeted therapy clinical trials

Visit TargetedCancerCare.org for more information on the latest genomic research, cancer treatments and clinical trials.

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