Head & Neck Surgery


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Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

What is advanced or high-risk non-melanoma skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world.  Fortunately, the majority of cancers are not aggressive, and can be treated without the need for major surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.  However, there is a subset of cancers that behave much more aggressively or present at an advanced (large/invasive) stage.  For these cancers, a multidisciplinary team approach is recommended.  These tumors include large basal cell carcinomas, deep or invasive squamous cell carcinomas, Merkel cell carcinoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma/pleomorphic undifferentiated sarcoma, angiosarcoma, eccrine carcinoma, and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP).  These types of tumors can involve more aggressive surgery with possible evaluation of the lymph nodes, and may require radiation therapy or chemotherapy after surgery.  Due to the unique nature of melanoma, we approach these tumors in a separate fashion.


At Stanford, all patients with aggressive or rare skin cancers that have a higher risk of treatment failure are discussed at our multidisciplinary High-Risk Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer tumor board.  At this tumor board we have colleagues from dermatology, head and neck surgery, radiation oncology, and medical oncology discuss each patient and review the optimal treatment strategy.  This allows us to consider all the available options and appropriate coordinate every aspect of your care.  For rare tumors, this would also include consideration for clinical trials and novel protocols.