What to Expect

A skin cancer reference for patients and families.

If you see a doctor for suspected skin cancer, you’ll likely have many questions. Several we hear often:

  • How is skin cancer diagnosed?
  • How is it treated?
  • What are the side effects of skin cancer treatment?

These questions are normal. We’re here to answer these -- and any other -- questions you have. The Henry Ford skin cancer team will help you get treatment with confidence for a healthy recovery.

How we diagnose skin cancer

If you’ve noticed a suspicious change to your skin, including a mole that’s changed shape or grown, visit your primary care doctor. You may notice these changes during a skin self-exam. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a dermatologist.

The dermatologist will closely examine the affected area and determine whether it’s skin cancer through a biopsy.

Melanoma diagnosis

We take a team approach to treating melanoma. A group of our specialists called a tumor board meets regularly to review every patient’s case and discuss treatment options. The tumor board includes medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses, and support staff members.

How we treat skin cancer

The right treatment is the most effective way to prevent the spread of skin cancer. Dermatologists and oncologists at Henry Ford work together to make sure your diagnosis is accurate. Your dermatologist will work with you to determine the most effective treatment method based on your type of skin cancer.

Treatment side effects

If the dermatologist uses a cream or ointment to treat your skin cancer, you may experience redness, tenderness, irritation, or swelling. If the skin spot was frozen and removed (cryotherapy), expect some redness and blistering. For patients who need surgery, you likely will have some scarring.

Our cosmetic surgeons provide skin grafts and reconstruction for Mohs surgery patients. If the cancer has spread beyond the skin, we’ll include medical oncologists and radiation oncologists in your care. Keep an eye on the treated area. If you’re concerned about side effects or the area doesn’t start to feel better, come back to see us.

What to expect after treatment

It’s important to think about how to prevent skin cancer in the future. Once you’ve had skin cancer, you’re at higher risk for developing it again. We provide education and support to reduce your risk of future skin cancers.

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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