Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Care at Scripps in San Diego

Scripps Health treats more skin cancer patients than any other San Diego healthcare provider. We specialize in all types of skin cancer, including difficult cases involving the eyelid as well as those requiring cosmetic reconstruction, particularly for intricate areas of the face, neck, hands and feet.

About Skin Cancer

Why choose Scripps Health for your skin cancer treatment.

Treatment Options

Find treatment options for skin cancer.

The cancer specialists at Scripps Health provide the most advanced skin cancer treatment options available.

Expertise in skin cancer treatment

Scripps physicians diagnose skin cancers and treat them using leading-edge methods that may include: surgery, other localized therapies, targeted therapies or radiation therapy. Our multidisciplinary teams of dermatologists, oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, nurses and clinicians work to provide the most appropriate and personalized course of treatment for you. Members of our Division of Plastic Surgery are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Mohs micrographic surgery specialists

Scripps has unmatched regional expertise in Mohs micrographic surgery, providing world-class care for more than 2,500 patients each year from San Diego and the Southwest U.S.

Scripps dermatologists and cancer physicians have performed more than 35,000 Mohs procedures here. Dozens of Mohs physicians nationally have been trained through the Scripps Mohs fellowship program.

The different types of skin cancer

Each year, more than 3 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. It is the most common type of all cancers but has a high rate of survival and treatment success with early detection.

The two primary types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:

These skin cancers are considered slow-growing and usually are found on the head and neck, which can be over-exposed to the sun. Pre-cancerous skin growths such as actinic keratosis can become squamous cell carcinoma and should be watched closely for any changes in appearance or size.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It usually starts on the chest or backs in men and on the legs and arms in women. Although melanoma represents fewer than 5 percent of all U.S. skin cancer cases, according to the American Cancer Society, the number of cases has been rising.

Other less common types of skin cancer include Kaposi sarcoma, lymphoma of the skin and the very rare Merkel cell carcinoma. Scripps Health teams are actively working in these areas to detect, diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer.

Skin cancer screening and diagnosis

Scripps offers detection and diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancers and melanoma skin cancer through:

  • Physical exam by a physician and review of family history
  • Dermatoscopy, in which the skin is examined through special magnified device
  • Skin biopsy of a portion of abnormal growth or the entire growth
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA)
  • Surgical lymph node biopsy (if a melanoma is believed to have spread)
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy (to help determine possible extent of a melanoma’s spread beyond the skin and lymph nodes)
  • Imaging tests such as a X-ray, CT scan, MRI or PET scan

Skin cancer risk factors

Routine physical exams include a visual check of the skin (especially your head, neck, chest, back, legs and arms) for any changes or marks. Your physician will if you’ve performed self-exams at home and noticed skin changes, or if you have any questions or concerns. Certain risk factors raise the chances of developing skin cancer:

  • Over-exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun or tanning beds
  • Fair-colored skin and freckles, blue or green eyes, red or blond hair
  • Family history of melanoma (parent, brother, sister or child)
  • Exposure to large amounts of arsenic, a heavy metal chemical used in the production of some pesticides and other products
  • Previous radiation treatments
  • Weakened immune system
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection

Be sure to discuss your family medical history and relevant health information with your physician, as well as your outdoor activities and use of sunscreens, hats or other apparel that can help protect your skin from harmful over-exposure to UV rays.