- GW Cutaneous Oncology Program
- Comprehensive Skin Cancer and Supportive Oncodermatology Services
The GW Cancer Center's Cutaneous Oncology Program is a leading comprehensive skin cancer treatment center in Washington, D.C. Every skin cancer is different, and as a result, we take an individualized approach to each skin cancer patient. Our multidisciplinary team includes specialists in medical and surgical dermatology, head and neck surgery, plastic surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, dermatopathology, and genetic counseling. Our team works closely together to offer patients the most personalized treatment plan for their skin cancer, no matter how common, rare or complex. Together, your team will develop a treatment plan tailored to your disease, your concerns, and your lifestyle considerations.
The GW Cancer Center's Cutaneous Oncology program oversees the care of patients with all types of active skin cancers including melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, as well as patients with suspected skin cancers who are in need of diagnostic testing or surveillance.
Skin cancers are more common than all other cancers combined, and the incidence of skin cancers is rising faster than any other type of cancer. The Cutaneous Oncology Program provides highly specialized care for all types of skin cancer. We also provide care for patients experiencing skin-related side effects from any type of cancer or its treatment through our Supportive Oncodermatology Clinic, including:
- Skin reactions to cancer chemotherapy
- Skin reactions to radiation therapy
- Hair or nail changes due to cancer chemotherapy
- Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
Our personalized and multidisciplinary approach allows patients to have access to a wide variety of physicians during their visit, including:
- Dermatologists evaluate and monitor suspicious lesions
- Dermatopathologists evaluate tissue slides of possible cancerous lesions
- Dermatologic surgeons and surgical oncologists work together to most effectively remove malignant lesions using cutting edge surgical therapies like Mohs micrographic surgery
- Radiation oncologists add radiation therapy to bolster cure rates
- Medical oncologists add chemo and immunotherapy to treat more advanced skin cancers
- Genetic counselors help patients understand and manage their risk for cancer
Our program is broken into four specialized weekly multidisciplinary clinics which include:
- High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic
- Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Clinic
- Cutaneous Lymphoma Clinic
- Supportive Oncodermatology Clinic
Approach to Treatment
You will be cared for by a comprehensive team that combines leading experts with the latest technological and research advances. Our multidisciplinary team works together to create a personalized treatment plan that supports all of your medical, nutritional and emotional needs. At the GW Cancer Center's Cutaneous Oncology Program, you will have access to:
- A multidisciplinary treatment team of world-renowned experts in dermatologic oncology, dermatologic and Mohs surgery, dermatopathology, head and neck surgery, reconstructive surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and radiology.
- Clinical trials
- Advanced radiation oncology techniques including external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and surface mold computer-optimized high-dose-rate bracytherapy (SMBT).
- Mohs Surgery, including using immunostains for Melanoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma and other aggresive or rare skin cancers.
Skin Cancer Information for Patients
Skin cancers are more common than all other cancers combined. The incidence of skin cancers is also rising faster than any other cancer. Skin cancers can include:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)
- Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP)
- Cutaneous T-cell and B-cell lymphoma (CTCL, CBCL)
- Rare adnexal neoplasms (such as eccrine, apocrine, or sebaceous carcinomas and hair follicle tumors)
- Other rare skin cancers
Research and Clinical Trials
The GW Cancer Center's Cutaneous Oncology Program offers a variety of clinical trials. Patients can also enroll in our blood, tissue and database collection studies for melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. For more information about enrolling in a clinical trial or collection study, please contact Janene Herring, Cutaneous Oncology Program coordinator at (202) 741-2829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery (MMS) Program
Developed in the 1940s by Dr. Frederic Mohs, MMS is an outpatient procedure that involves surgically removing the visible tumor, along wiht a thin layer of normal-appearing tissue around and beneath the tumor.
- The moved tissue is then frozen and examined under a microscope. If cancer is seen at the edges or under the surface of the removed tissue, additional tissue is removed from the patient, but only in the area where cancer remains.
- MMS allows for the entire margin of the tumor to be analyzed (called complete peripheral margin analysis) and thus provides the highest cure rates in most skin cancers. The rapid and precise examination of the removed skin reduces guesswork, which means as little healthy tissue as possible is removed. As a result, MMS tends to minimize the size of the surgical wound necessary to remove the cancer completely.
- MMS has become a standard treatment for tumors on the face, hands, and lower legs, where it is important to preserve normal skin, or where healing is difficult.
- MMS is also becoming the preffered treatment of more aggressive tumors such as melanoma and MCC wehre recurrence rates appear to be lower in patients treated with MMS.