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Unusual Cancers of Childhood (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Other Rare Unusual Cancers of Childhood


Treatment of Melanoma

Treatment for melanoma is surgery to remove the tumor and some tissue around the tumor. If cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, treatment is surgery to remove the lymph nodes with cancer. Biologic therapy with high-dose interferon alpha-2b may also be given.

Treatment for melanoma that has spread beyond the lymph nodes may include the following:

  • Chemotherapy and/or biologic therapy.
  • A clinical trial of high-dose biologic therapy or targeted therapy.

See the PDQ summary on adult Melanoma Treatment for more information.

Squamous Cell and Basal Cell Skin Cancer

The risk of squamous cell or basal cell cancer is increased by the following:

  • Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time.
  • Having a fair complexion, which includes the following:
    • Fair skin that freckles and burns easily, does not tan, or tans poorly.
    • Blue or green or other light-colored eyes.
    • Red or blond hair.
  • Having actinic keratosis.
  • Past treatment with radiation.
  • Having a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of squamous cell and basal cell skin cancer include the following:

  • A sore that does not heal.
  • Areas of the skin that are:
    • Small, raised, smooth, shiny, and waxy.
    • Small, raised, and red or reddish-brown.
    • Flat, rough, red or brown, and scaly.
    • Scaly, bleeding, or crusty.
    • Similar to a scar and firm.

Tests to diagnose squamous cell and basal cell skin cancer include the following:

  • Skin exam: A doctor or nurse checks the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture.
  • Biopsy: All or part of a growth that doesn't look normal is cut from the skin and viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. There are three main types of skin biopsies:
    • Shave biopsy: A sterile razor blade is used to "shave-off" the growth that does not look normal.
    • Punch biopsy: A special instrument called a punch or a trephine is used to remove a circle of tissue from the growth that does not look normal.
    • Excisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove the entire growth.
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