If you are at high risk for developing skin cancer due to an organ transplant or suppressed immune system, you need an advanced level of care. Our expert team catches skin cancers in the early stages, when they are easily treated. We believe in highly personalized care that involves carefully monitoring patients with early biopsies and frequent appointments. Our robust research program offers you access to clinical trials for melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
We treat skin cancers early and aggressively. This approach can stop these cancers from invading adjacent tissue or spreading (metastasizing).
We start by identifying suspicious lesions in the pre-cancerous stage. We treat these with liquid nitrogen or 5-fluorouracil cream to eliminate them before they become cancerous.
Skin cancer treatment options at Stanford
When a cancer has already developed on the skin, our treatment plan may include:
Photodynamic therapy. Not all dermatology clinics offer this treatment, which we use often. In this therapy, we use a laser to target areas of skin that has been infused with a light-sensitive chemical.
Chemowraps. In this treatment, we apply a topical medication to skin lesions and then wrap them with a dressing that remains in place for about a week. Unlike other clinics that may use chemowraps as a later-stage therapy, we use them early. They can reduce or eliminate the need for surgery.
Cryosurgery. Also called “freezing,” cryosurgery destroys cancerous tissue.
Mohs micrographic surgery. This highly precise type of surgery removes tissue layer by layer to remove all the cancerous cells while sparing as much healthy skin as possible.
Oral medications. We frequently prescribe acitretin, a medication not in wide use among general dermatologists due to its potential side effects. Our team is familiar with acitretin and will prescribe blood tests as well as cholesterol-lowering measures to ensure your safety while on this medication.
Chemotherapy. For advanced skin cancers, such as metastatic SCC, we use chemotherapy. This treatment delivers cancer-fighting medication by mouth or directly into the bloodstream (intravenous).
Topical creams and gels. These may include medicated preparations or emollients.
Stanford High-Risk Skin Cancer Clinic: Our approach to treatment
We believe in catching skin lesions before they turn cancerous. When caught early, most pre-cancerous lesions can be removed or otherwise cured. Our approach includes:
Early intervention: Dr. Carolyn Lee’s years of experience allow her to identify pre-cancerous lesions with a high degree of accuracy.
Earlier to biopsy: We don’t take a wait-and-see approach to questionable lesions on the skin of high-risk patients. We biopsy early to help guide the treatment process.
Advanced treatments: Our front-line treatments often are considered later-stage therapies by other dermatologists.
Novel treatments: We employ treatments other dermatologists don’t use as often.
Closer follow-up: Instead of seeing you once a year, we see you frequently. Sometimes we may want to see you once a week.
Multidisciplinary approach: We rely on the expertise of doctors in other specialties, including oncology and genetics, to ensure we investigate every possible treatment option for your skin cancer.
Medications that suppress the immune system may increase the odds of developing skin cancer. Learn how the Stanford High-Risk Skin Cancer Clinic helped one patient with advanced prevention and treatments.
Some medications required after transplant may increase odds of developing skin cancer. The Stanford High-Risk Skin Cancer Clinic offers advanced prevention, treatments, clinical trials and a tumor board.
Stanford Health Care is known worldwide for the advanced patient care provided by its doctors and staff. We also provide a wide range of guest services and amenities to our patients and visitors. Learn more about preparing for a hospital stay, billing and financial services, and our other support programs in Patients & Visitors.
We want to make your treatment as effective as possible. If you are a transplant candidate, contact us before your transplant surgery so we can evaluate your post-transplant risk level for skin cancer and prepare a treatment plan in coordination with your transplant team. Please ask us any questions you have — we want to make you comfortable and prepared.