What is skin cancer and melanoma?

Skin cancer typically presents as a tumor that grows from skin cells. For this reason, it is usually visible and can be spotted in the early stages. Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer, and accounts for the most skin cancer deaths in the U.S. It begins in the melanocytes (meh-LAN-oh-sites), which are responsible for skin pigment. Other types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma (BAY-sul sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh), which is the most common type and begins in the top layer of skin, and squamous cell carcinoma (SKWAY-mus sel KAR-sih-NOH-muh), which is more aggressive but also very treatable. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer than with all other cancers combined.

Too much sun exposure can increase the risk of developing any of these types of skin cancer. Other risk factors include family or personal history, smoking, or having an immunosuppressive disorder. Fair-skinned people are more likely to get skin cancer than dark-skinned people, but anyone can be at risk. Even people with darker skin tones should wear sunscreen and avoid too much sun exposure.

Each year, an estimated 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed (appearing in about 3.3 million Americans, since some people have more than one cancer).

Our multidisciplinary approach to skin cancer treatment

The Northwell Health Cancer Institute at Phelps does not just treat cancer—we treat the whole patient. Our doctors, surgeons, and other team members will work together to create a unique plan for you based on your particular diagnosis, health history, and personal needs.

dark skin woman touching her shoulder

We will be with you every step of the way, using the most advanced therapies available to help you beat cancer. Some of the advanced treatments provided at the Cancer Institute include:

  • Advanced surgical techniques such as Mohs skin cancer surgery
  • Collaboration with local and regional dermatology practices
  • Highly precise radiation therapy techniques, such as stereotactic radiation therapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy
  • Comprehensive support services

We will make every effort to provide convenient and local treatment options, so you can focus on your battle. Our doctors use a collaborative approach, and will always consult with the most qualified specialists both inside and outside of the Phelps system, including dermatologists and dermatopathologists.

As a part of the Northwell Health system, we have access to a network of research laboratories and hospitals performing cutting-edge cancer trials. For more information, please talk to your doctor.

Our team at Phelps is dedicated to ensuring you get the treatment you need in the comfort of a warm and caring environment. Your oncologist will explain all of your treatment options and create a plan for your specific needs and goals. You’ll work closely with a dedicated team of specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology who will collaborate to ensure seamless coordination of your care.

Call the Cancer Institute for more information.

Commission on cancer logo

As a testament to our quality of care, we have been designated as a Community Cancer Program by the Commission on Cancer.

woman looking at a mirror to examin the skin on her face

Everyone is vulnerable to skin cancer, regardless of skin tone or history. Remember to wear sunscreen and self-examine for unusual skin appearance.

Focused on the future of cancer care
Northwell Health has one of the largest cancer programs in the New York metro area.
female nurse helping a patient in wheelchair
We’re here to support you on every step of your journey

We know that every patient’s cancer diagnosis and journey is unique. We offer a variety of coordinated support services right here at Phelps Hospital. Our support program includes oncology nurse navigators, oncology nutritionists, social workers, and others who are dedicated to coordinating your care and ensuring your needs are met. Our unique hospitality team will make sure you have a comfortable stay while you’re with us.

Explore the support program