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Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers


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There are a variety of other conditions or cutaneous malignancies that may result in skin cancer. Most of these are easier to treat than melanoma and may include:

Basal cell skin cancer

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer and overall the most common type of cancer in humans. In the U.S., almost 4 million cases are diagnosed each year. They originate from the lowest layer of the epidermis, the basal layer. BCCs result from DNA damage directly from sunlight or indoor tanning. They usually arise in skin exposed to sunlight and rarely spread, but if left untreated, they can become locally destructive.

BCCs can present as scaly pink/red flat areas or bumps that are itchy, painful, bleed, or won’t heal. In patients with darker skin types, BCCs can be brown.

Most BCCs can be cured with surgery. In many cases such as lesions on the head and neck, Mohs surgery is an option.

Your team of experts may include:

  • A dermatologist for a skin exam and biopsy to diagnose the condition. Often, an in-office procedure is performed to remove the growth.
  • Head and neck surgeon or surgical oncologist for resection if deeper structures like bone or lymph nodes are involved.
  • Radiation oncologist for possible radiation therapy for aggressive cancers.
  • Oncologist if the disease is very extensive or has metastasized (spread elsewhere in body).

Squamous cell skin cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. In the U.S., about 1 million cases are diagnosed each year. They originate from the squamous layer of the epidermis. SCCs usually occur due to DNA damage from sunlight. They usually arise on sun exposed skin. Less commonly, they may form on genital skin, hands and feet, and in scars or chronic wounds. People with light skin, hair, and eyes who have had extensive sun exposure are at highest risk for SCC. Organ transplant recipients and those with certain types of leukemia have higher risk of developing SCCs.

SCCs can present as scaly pink/red patches or bumps, open sores, or wart like growths. They may be itchy, painful, bleeding, or non-healing lesions.

When detected early, SCCs are easily and successfully treated with surgery. If neglected, they may enlarge to become disfiguring, spread to lymph nodes or other organs, and even be deadly. For advanced cancers, treatment may require exploration/removal of lymph nodes, radiation, or even systemic therapy (immunotherapy, targeted therapies, or chemotherapy).

Your team of experts that treat SCCs may include:

  • A dermatologist for a skin exam and biopsy to diagnose the condition. Often, an in-office procedure is performed to remove the growth.
  • Head and neck surgeon or surgical oncologist for resection if deeper structures like bone or lymph nodes are involved.
  • Radiation oncologist for possible radiation therapy for aggressive cancers.
  • Oncologist if the disease is extensive or has metastasized (spread elsewhere in body).

Mycosis fungoides and Sezary syndrome

Mycosis fungoides (MF) and Sezary Syndrome (SS) are types of lymphoma of the skin called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). These are rare cancers where abnormal T cells grow in the skin. T cells are part of the immune system that protect our cells from viruses or ones that have become cancerous.

CTCL can cause red rashes, thicker plaques, and sometimes skin tumors. They may be red, purple, brown, or even lighter in color compared to surrounding skin. One may see a combination of different lesions and can present anywhere on the body, although commonly it appears in areas not exposed to the sun. In more severe cases, it can present as a red rash on large area of the body, called erythroderma.

Although difficult to cure, CTCL is treatable.

Your team of experts that treat CTCL may include:

  • A dermatologist for a skin exam and biopsy to diagnose condition and manage if only limited areas of lymphoma.
  • Hematologist/oncologist for additional blood tests, imaging studies, possible bone marrow tests, and chemotherapy.
  • Radiation oncologist for possible radiation therapy for treat the cancer.

Kaposi sarcoma

Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a rare skin cancer that originates in cells that line blood or lymph vessels. It is caused by a virus called human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8). Most patients with KS have a compromised or weakened immune system such as HIV or due to organ transplantation. Less commonly, KS develop in patients in certain regions of the world such as the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

KS lesions range from flat pink areas to dark violet nodules on the skin, mouth, or other mucosa. In advanced cases, KS may involve internal organs.

The team may include:

  • A dermatologist for skin exam and biopsy to diagnose condition.
  • Infectious disease expert for management of underlying condition like HIV/AIDS.
  • Oncologist for systemic treatment like chemotherapy.
  • Radiation oncologist for possible radiation therapy to treat the tumors.

Our team at Sylvester is involved in clinical trials when conventional or typical therapies are not effective.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

World-class skin cancer surveillance and detection clinic. Earlier detection options and more accurate diagnoses allow us to identify skin cancer when it is most treatable.

Multidisciplinary care teams. You’ll have your cancer assessed and treated by a full team of skin cancer professionals. It adds up to personalized care focused on providing you with an optimal quality of life.

Immunotherapy clinical trials. You’ll have access to the most advanced treatment options in South Florida.

Treating more skin cancers than other providers in our region. Because we see so many patients with skin cancers, we have the experience needed to provide better outcomes with fewer potential complications.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.


  • Surgical Procedures

    We will determine the most appropriate surgical procedure for your cancer and will replace skin damaged during cancer removal by using advanced techniques. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, post-surgery radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be recommended.

    • Electrodesiccation and Curettage: Here, the tumor is removed from the skin with a sharp, spoon-shaped tool, called a curette. Then, a specialist uses a thin electrode to treat the area with an electric current to inhibit bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells.

    • Simple Excision: The tumor is precisely cut from the skin along with some of the normal skin around it.

    • Mohs Micrographic Surgery: This precise cosmetic method removes the tumor from the skin in thin layers. The tumor pieces are viewed through a microscope to check for cancer cells, completing the process in just one office visit with a nearly 100 percent cure rate. It is useful in treating large tumors, tumors in certain critical locations, including on or near the forehead, scalp, fingers, nose, eyes, ears, or genital area, and those that have returned after other treatments.

  • Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy is a common treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer. It is especially useful for tumors that are large or on areas of the body that are difficult to treat. Radiation therapy is usually delivered as a short daily dose over four to six weeks.

    • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT): SBRT gives radiation therapy from many different positions around the tumor. The cancer receives a high and directed dose of radiation, but special care is taken to limit exposure to the healthy surrounding tissue.

    • RapidArc® Intensity Modulated External Radiation Therapy (IMRT): This technique shortens treatment times to one-half to one-eighth that of conventional radiation therapy, resulting in better tumor targeting and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

  • Chemotherapy

    Topical chemotherapy for non-melanoma skin cancer is usually applied on the skin in the form of a cream or lotion. The application of chemotherapy depends on the condition being treated. Retinoids (drugs related to vitamin A) are sometimes used to treat squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.

  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

    This cancer treatment uses a light-activated drug injected into a vein. The drug collects in cancer cells, and laser light is then shined onto the skin to activate its cancer-killing effect. PDT causes little damage to healthy tissue.

  • Immunotherapy

    Also called biologic therapy, these drugs use your immune system to fight cancer. Topical imiquimod therapy (a cream applied to the skin) may be used to treat some small basal cell carcinomas.


In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, procedures for diagnosing basal and squamous cell skin cancers include:

  • Skin Examination

    We will look and feel for any bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture. Any suspicious areas can have a tissue sample removed to be tested for cancer.

  • Skin Biopsy

    All or part of the abnormal-looking growth is removed and examined by a pathologist, known as a cellular expert, to check for signs of cancer. Types of skin biopsies include:

    • Punch Biopsy: A circle of tissue is removed from the abnormal-looking growth.

    • Incisional Biopsy: A doctor uses a scalpel to extract part of the growth.

    • Excisional Biopsy: The entire growth is removed, using a scalpel.

  • Dermoscopy

    Dermoscopy is an examination of the skin using a handheld magnifying device (skin surface microscopy). We evaluate pigmented (colored) lesions and identify any cancerous growths that are not just moles or non-cancerous marks.

  • Reflectance Confocal Microscopy (RCM)

    This additional high magnification testing helps identify lesions not totally defined by dermoscopy.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.