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Weill Cornell Cancer Center


The initial mode of therapy for most skin cancers is surgery to remove the tumor. For most basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, this is often the only form of therapy required. Our surgeons collaborate with plastic surgeons whenever necessary to minimize the effects of surgery on a patient's appearance.

Mohs Surgery

The Weill Cornell Cancer Center features the expertise of a renowned Mohs surgeon for patients with non-melanoma skin cancers. During Mohs surgery, the surgeon removes thin layers of the skin growth. Each layer is immediately examined under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells. The surgeon continues to shave away tissue until no cancer cells can be seen under the microscope. With this approach, the surgeon can remove all of the cancer while leaving as much healthy skin tissue as possible.

Melanoma Treatment

Patients who have surgery for melanoma with certain levels of invasion may also undergo sentinel node biopsy to determine if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node to which cancer is likely to spread. It is identified by injecting a blue dye and/or a radioactive tracer into the area around the tumor. The surgeon then removes the sentinel node(s) where the marker collects, and it is analyzed for the presence of cancer cells.

If cancer is not present, then the remaining lymph nodes do not need to be removed; additional nodes are only removed if the sentinel node contains cancer cells. This approach is commonly used in melanoma care today and spares many patients from lymphedema (uncomfortable swelling that can develop in an arm or leg when many lymph nodes are removed for analysis).

Our surgeons collaborate with medical oncologists in the care of patients with melanoma who require chemotherapy or other forms of systemic therapy as part of their treatment, especially those with advanced disease.

Clinical Trials

Patients may be referred to clinical trials of investigational new treatment approaches.

Find a Weill Cornell skin cancer clinical trial at

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