Melanoma is a cancer that is curable if it is caught early and treated effectively. Late stages of the cancer must be treated aggressively to control its spread and minimize the risk that it will return. Our team of specialists will create a personalized treatment plan that ensures you experience the best outcome for your condition.
Duke melanoma experts use the latest diagnostic tools to detect melanoma at the earliest stage possible. These tests provide important facts about your melanoma and help determine the best approach to your treatment.
Melanoma is typically first identified during a physical exam. A dermatologist may use a high-powered microscope called a dermatoscope to closely examine a suspicious area.
Total Body Photography
If you have several moles on your body or a family history of melanoma, our dermatologists may use mole-mapping technology to take sequential photographs of your body from multiple angles over time. The photographs allow your dermatologist to track changes in your skin and evaluate your risk for melanoma.
If melanoma is suspected, a sample of skin will be removed and examined for cancer. The type of biopsy you have will be determined by how deep your doctor believes the melanoma has penetrated. A shave biopsy takes less skin, while a punch biopsy goes deeper into the skin.
This biopsy removes a much larger section of skin, the melanoma, and surrounding tissue to confirm the diagnosis and stage the cancer. This procedure can also be used to ensure that the cancer has been completely eliminated. Your doctor may also perform a sentinel node biopsy, in which the lymph node closest to the tumor is removed and examined for cancer. If it's cancer-free, it means the tumor has not spread to your lymph nodes.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Leaders in Melanoma Treatment and Research
Your Melanoma Team
Your team of doctors may include dermatologists, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors), plastic and reconstructive surgeons, and oculoplastic facial surgeons. They work together to identify the most effective treatment to ensure you experience the best possible outcome.
Expertise in Head and Neck Melanoma
Our experienced ear, nose, and throat surgeons are specially trained in removing melanoma on the head and neck.
Ocular Melanoma Treatment Options
Our ophthalmologists are experts in detecting and treating melanoma that occurs around or near the eye.
Compassionate Care for Pediatric Melanoma
If your child is diagnosed with melanoma, we make the treatment process as easy as possible. Appointments with your oncologist and dermatologist can be conveniently scheduled at the same time and location, and a child life specialist will be present to ensure your child feels comfortable.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.
You May Be Eligible to Participate in Clinical Trials
Our involvement in clinical trials offers hope to people with advanced melanoma as well as people at high risk for recurrent melanoma. You may be eligible to participate in these trials, which may give you access to therapies that are not widely available.
We are part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for people with cancer.
You’ll have access to our many cancer support services including education and resources that help you understand your diagnosis, make decisions about treatment, and manage any side effects. We also help you and your family cope with the emotional impacts of your diagnosis and treatment.