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Melanoma

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

UT Southwestern’s melanoma specialists offer patients a unique level of expertise and experience and the most innovative, advanced therapies.

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas, we deliver the best cancer care available today and push to discover new treatments that will lead to the best cancer care of tomorrow.

Program Highlights

UT Southwestern’s Comprehensive Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program specialists offer patients a unique level of expertise and experience and the most innovative and advanced therapies. 

Our experts diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer – from the most common to the very rare – and deliver the advanced screening, precise diagnostics, and pioneering treatments that are leading to better-than-ever patient outcomes. Our team works closely with patients to develop tailored care plans that are based on each person’s unique condition, overall health, and treatment goals and preferences. 


Highlights of our program include: 

  • An integrated, multidisciplinary team that includes dermatologists, surgical and radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and radiologists – all of whom take a personalized, evidence-based approach to skin cancer diagnosis and care
  • A focus on screening, early detection, and accurate diagnoses – all key to successful skin cancer treatment
  • The most sophisticated diagnostic tools available, including highly specialized dermatopathology testing and in-house molecular profiling
  • Expertise in all types of surgery to remove all types of skin cancer, including Mohs surgery, tumor excision, and regional lymph-node dissection 
  • Leadership in the use of stereotactic radiosurgery – including tools such as the Gamma Knife and CyberKnife – to treat some cases of skin cancer 
  • Immunotherapies, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, which stimulate the immune system to target and kill skin cancer cells
  • Targeted therapies, which use drugs to target abnormal proteins in tumor cells
  • Opportunities for patients to enroll in clinical trials of promising new protocols aimed at improving skin cancer diagnoses and treatments that are not yet available to the public
  • A comprehensive variety of cancer support services

About Melanoma


Melanoma – also called malignant melanoma – is an aggressive type of skin cancer that develops in the skin cells that produce melanin (melanocytes).

  • Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body – not only on areas frequently exposed to the sun, and even under the nails and in the mucous membranes. In people with dark skin, it commonly occurs on the soles of the feet and the palms.
  • The disease has become more prevalent in the past several decades, with an estimated 87,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017.
  • Melanoma comprises only about 1 percent of skin cancer cases – making it the rarest form of skin cancer – but it causes the highest number of skin cancer-related deaths. 
  • Melanoma is the fifth most common type of cancer among men, the sixth most common among women, and one of the most common cancers among young adults.
  • Melanoma has a higher risk of spreading to other parts of the body (metastasizing) than many other types of cancer.
  • In 2017, an estimated 9,730 people died of melanoma in the U.S.

Types of Melanoma


There are three main types of melanoma:

Cutaneous melanoma  

This type of melanoma arises in the skin and has four subtypes: 

  • Superficial spreading melanoma: The most common type of melanoma
  • Nodular melanoma: The second most common type of melanoma
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma: An uncommon type of melanoma that typically arises in fair-skinned women older than 50 as flat lesions on the face
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma: An uncommon type of melanoma – more prevalent in people with darker skin – that develops on the palms, under the nails, or on the soles of the feet

Mucosal melanoma 

Comprising only about 1 percent of melanoma cases, mucosal melanoma develops in the mucous membranes, including those in the mouth, nose, throat, urinary tract, vagina, and rectum.

Ocular (intraocular) melanoma 

This type of melanoma affects the eyes and can develop in the eyeball (uveal) or the lining of the eyelid (conjunctival).

Related Conditions and Treatments

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