When you have a mole, spot or another area on your skin that looks suspicious, you want to know if it's a cause for concern as soon as possible. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer or melanoma, you'll want cancer care treatment from the experienced team at University of Missouri Health Care.

Developing a customized treatment plan for each patient

MU Health Care provides the most advanced skin cancer and melanoma treatment. Patients come from across the region and neighboring states to seek management from our experienced, professional team of melanoma and skin cancer specialists. Our physicians' experience and specialized fellowship training means we can treat both common and rare skin cancers, large and small cancers and cancers in the most delicate locations such as the eyelids, ears and nose, or that has spread to other parts of the body.

After you've been diagnosed, your treatment begins with a consultation with our skin cancer team. Our team discusses leading-edge treatment options and answers any questions you might have. We will work with you to develop your personalized treatment plan and coordinate with any other specialists you may need, including surgical and plastic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and dermatologic surgeons.

Skin cancer symptoms

Skin cancer and melanoma can occur on any part of the body, but they're most often diagnosed on the face, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and legs. Anyone can be diagnosed with skin cancer or melanoma, not just people with fair skin. Some common skin cancer symptoms include:

  • A firm and/or red bump on the skin
  • A bleeding or scabbing sore or mole that won't heal
  • Skin lesions that appear scaly or crusty, which may itch or burn
  • A mole that changes in color, size or feel or has an irregular boarder

If you notice any changes on your body, talk to your doctor at your next appointment. Skin cancer is treatable, especially when it’s caught early.

Types of skin cancer

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body like the neck or face. Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body including skin that isn't exposed to the sun. It's most often diagnosed on the torso in men, and on the legs in women.

Less common skin cancers –Merkel cell carcinoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, other sarcomas, and other rare types of skin cancers – can also develop on sun-exposed areas of the body. Talk with your doctor if you notice any changes to your skin. Our skin cancer team can treat all diagnoses.

Skin cancer treatments

Our physicians are skin cancer treatment experts and offer multiple options for patients.  Traditional cancer treatments such as surgery and radiation as well as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy are all available treatment options for our patients.

MU Health Care also offers Mohs micrographic surgery for nonmelanoma and melanoma cancers. This procedure is unique to skin cancer and helps preserve surrounding tissue to maintain skin's natural appearance on the face, hands, feet, genitals and shin bone, or pretibial area. MU Health Care is one of the only places in Missouri that has a fellowship-trained physician performing Mohs surgery.

Leading-edge research and clinical trials

MU Health Care leads clinical trials for various types of skin cancers. Clinical trials help our doctors find the future treatment possibilities while still providing you with most advanced and best quality care. Talk with your doctor if you’re interested in a skin cancer clinical trial.

Risk factors of skin cancer

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes skin cancer. While anyone who is exposed to UV rays is at risk for skin cancer or melanoma, some people have a higher risk of developing it. Factors that may increase your risk include:

  • A history of sunburns. If you've had one or more sunburns that has blistered as a child or teenager, your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult may be higher.
  • A weakened immune system. If your immune system is suppressed, you may have a higher chance of being diagnosed with skin cancer.
  • Fair skin. If you freckle easily, have light colored eyes or blond or red hair, you're at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Family history. If your parents or a sibling have been diagnosed with melanoma, you may have a higher chance of being diagnosed as well.
  • People who a lot of moles or abnormal moles that can become cancerous have a higher risk of skin cancer. Keep an eye on your moles for any changes and talk to your doctor if you notice any changes.
  • Precancerous skin lesions. Skin lesions that occur from sun damage may increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Tanning bed use. Indoor tanning beds increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Too much sun exposure. Spending time in the sun, especially without using sunscreen, increases your risk of skin cancer. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and SPF for prolonged periods outside.