Melanoma & Skin Cancer Center

The UCSF Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program provides specialized care for patients with all stages of melanoma, from early-stage growths to advanced metastatic cancer, as well as for patients who are healthy but at higher risk of the disease due to family history, genetic mutations or having many abnormal moles. We also care for patients with other types of skin cancer, including squamous cell, basal cell and Merkel cell carcinomas.

Our program is part of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. This designation recognizes centers that provide full-spectrum, state-of-the-art cancer care.

Our team

Our skin cancer program brings together doctors from many specialties. Working collaboratively, they ensure our patients receive complete care that includes access to an array of treatment options. Our world-renowned team has the following types of subspecialists:

  • Medical dermatologists – who diagnose and treat a range of skin conditions
  • Surgical dermatologists – who provide surgical treatment for skin conditions
  • Dermatopathologists – experts in identifying cancers through microscopic examination of samples
  • Medical oncologists – experts in treating cancer with chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other therapies
  • Radiation oncologists – specialists in the various radiation therapies used to treat cancer
  • Surgical oncologists – specialists in surgical treatment of cancer
  • Otolaryngologists/head and neck surgeons – specialists in surgically treating head and neck cancers
  • Reconstructive surgeons – who perform procedures to repair and reshape damaged parts of the face or body

Also on our team are nurses and nurse practitioners, genetic counselors, psycho-oncologists, social workers, nutritionists and exercise counselors. All have special training in cancer care, including how to support and educate patients and their families.

Diagnosis and treatment

Our program emphasizes early diagnosis, because the earlier a skin cancer is detected, the greater the likelihood of successful treatment. We perform skin exams using dermatoscopes, handheld instruments that help us to distinguish cancerous lesions from noncancerous lesions with greater accuracy than eyes alone. We may also use digital dermoscopic photography (taking images with the dermatoscope) to closely track suspicious lesions over time.

We offer the full range of treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. When possible, we target the patient's specific cancer. Our dermatopathologists test melanomas for certain genetic mutations – such as BRAF, NRAS, KIT, GNAQ and GNA11 – to help us determine the most effective treatment for an individual patient. Our program holds a weekly tumor board meeting that allows multiple specialists to discuss complex cases and reach consensus on treatment recommendations.

Research and clinical trials

Our experts are leading clinical trials to evaluate some of the most innovative and promising new treatments for melanoma and other aggressive skin cancers. Interested patients may have the opportunity to participate.

Our locations

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    Patient education

    FAQ: Melanoma

    Commonly asked questions regarding Melanoma including, general information, seriousness, causes, malignancy, cure and prevention, and more.

    Rankings & achievements

    • usnews-neurology

      Best hospital in Northern California

    • Best in Northern California in cancer care

    • 600-2x

      melanoma patients seen each year

    Accreditations & memberships

    • National Cancer Institute

      The National Cancer Institute has designated UCSF a comprehensive cancer center, its highest ranking. This designation is awarded to centers that demonstrate scientific excellence and the ability to conduct cancer research across many disciplines.

    • Commission on Cancer

      UCSF's cancer programs have been accredited by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer (CoC) since 1933. The CoC is a consortium of groups dedicated to improving cancer patients' survival and quality of life via research, education and better medical care.

    • National Comprehensive Cancer Network

      UCSF is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the world’s top cancer centers. The network brings together leaders in treatment and research to improve the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of cancer care.

    Support services

    Support Group

    Art for Recovery

    Creativity can help people with serious illnesses cope, heal and express what they're going through. Find out about our program and how to join.

    Fitness

    Cancer Exercise Counseling

    Our one-on-one exercise training sessions, customized for your needs and abilities, can complement other cancer treatments and speed your recovery.

    Support Group

    Cancer Support Groups

    Support groups held by the Ida and Joseph Friend Patient and Family Cancer Support Center are free and available to all patients, whether or not you get your health care at UCSF.

    Fitness

    Core and More Class

    A strong body helps you fight cancer and enjoy life. Join this class to stabilize your core, strengthen your muscles and improve overall fitness. For cancer patients and caregivers!

    Patient Resource

    Friend to Friend Gift Shop

    A one-stop boutique for patients with cancer. Get professional help with wigs, prostheses, sun-protective clothing, makeup, skin care and more.

    Class

    Meditation and Guided Imagery for Cancer Patients

    Drop in for a free class designed to help you heal, relax and find balance during your treatment. UCSF and non-UCSF patients are welcome.

    Patient Resource

    Oncology Social Work

    Social workers can be key members of your cancer care team. Reach out for support, problem solving and help accessing UCSF's many cancer-related resources.

    Patient Resource

    Patient and Family Cancer Support Center

    You'll find support groups, classes, a library, treatment information, special events and much more to promote wellness and healing for patients and families.

    Support Group

    Peer Support Programs for Cancer

    Patients are matched with peer support volunteers according to criteria such as diagnosis, cancer stage, age or gender. Speak to someone who's "been there."

    Fitness

    Restorative Movement Class

    Explore simple movements that help you feel more powerful and comfortable in your body. This fun and free UCSF class is aimed at those in recovery from cancer.

    Patient Resource

    Spa Infusion

    Pamper yourself while fighting cancer. Free treatments for patients receiving chemotherapy at our Mount Zion campus include massage, acupressure and more.

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your condition
    • List of your medications, including dosages, plus any you're allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

    International Services

    If you live in another country and are coming to UCSF for medical
    treatment, our patient liaisons can help coordinate all aspects of your visit.

    Learn more

    Interpreters

    UCSF offers language services at no charge for patients with limited
    English, as well as for patients who are deaf or have trouble hearing.

    Learn more

    Hospital Stays

    Checking into the hospital? Find helpful information by clicking on the relevant “Your Hospital Stay” booklet: Mission Bay, Parnassus or Mount
    Zion.

    Learn more

    Your Doctor Visit

    See our top 10 tips for making your UCSF doctor’s appointment as stress-free and productive as possible.

    Learn more

    Related clinics

    High-Risk Skin Cancer Clinic

    1701 Divisadero St., Third Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94143-0316

    Cancer Survivorship and Wellness Institute

    Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building

    1600 Divisidero St., Fourth Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94115

    Psycho-Oncology

    Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building

    1600 Divisadero St.
    San Francisco, CA 94115

    Our research initiatives

    • UCSF-Helen-Diller-Family-Comprehensive-Cancer-Center-Research-2x

      UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Research

      UCSF is home to a range of research initiatives aimed at improving outcomes for cancer patients everywhere. This includes research on topics such as immunotherapy, BRCA mutations and molecular diagnostic testing.

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    UCSF Help Center

    (888) 689-8273

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