Our Treatment Approach to Skin Cancer
City of Hope has one of the most renowned skin cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields including dermatology, surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology and supportive care medicine. Together, they work collaboratively to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient to improve survival chances, enhance outcomes, minimize side effects and boost quality of life.


Surgical removal of the cancer is typically the first treatment for skin cancer and is often curative for early stage patients. For patients with advanced skin cancer, more extensive procedures (such as removal of nearby lymph nodes) may be necessary, but surgery can still significantly improve survival odds.
City of Hope’s surgeons specialize in minimally invasive procedures to treat skin cancers. By using making smaller cuts and fewer incisions, patients experience less pain, recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and are less likely to have post-surgical complications.
City of Hope also offers cryosurgery, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy skin cancer cells, and electrodesiccation and curettage, which cuts out the cancerous tissue and uses an electric current to kill remaining cancer cells.
The expertise of City of Hope’s surgeons also means that they can minimizing removal of healthy skin tissue, resulting in less scarring. Additionally, our specialized plastic surgery team that can perform reconstructive procedures to restore appearance.

Radiation Therapy

For skin cancer, radiation may be to treat any cancer cells that may remain after surgery, or may be used in lieu of surgery if the cancer is located in an area that’s challenging for surgical removal (such as the face).
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy, an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging. This allows the radiation beams to be “sculpted” to the tumor’s size and shape, resulting in more focused radiation on the cancer site while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs. This can reduce the likelihood and severity of side effects.

Drug Therapy

City of Hope uses a wide range of chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy drugs to treat skin cancer. These drugs may be taken orally, intravenously (injected into the bloodstream) or topically (applied on the skin).
In addition to standard drug regimens, patients have access to newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through our clinical trials program.
Cancer fighting drugs can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery and can be administered after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence.
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the drug therapy regimen can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.

Become a Patient

  If you have been diagnosed with a skin cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.