Skin Cancers

At St. Clair Health, we understand the uncertainty that comes with skin conditions and diagnosis. Our team of experts are highly trained and experienced in their field to provide our patients with exceptional and compassionate care. With state-of-the-art technology, treatments and procedures are less severe and bring peace of mind to our community. St. Clair’s surgical oncologists work closely with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists affiliated with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and other St. Clair service lines such as dermatologists, plastic/reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, and nurse navigators. Frequent collaborative discussions occur with this team of experts to help guide patient care and treatment through every step.

Types of Adult Skin Cancers

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin
  • Melanoma
  • Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Diagnostic Tools

Diagnostic tools are tests or procedures that are used to discover skin cancer or benign (non-cancer) skin conditions. It may take several of these tests to get a precise diagnosis and this process is critical in creating a personalized care plan for the patient. It is our goal to guide each patient through the process and reduce wait time between these steps.

  • Biopsy is a tool in which your doctor may remove the entire growth. An excisional biopsy is where the provider removes the entire growth and a shave biopsy is where they shave off layers of the lesion. 
  • CT Scans are special X-rays that are analyzed by a computer, giving cross-sectional images of the body. This test can show if any lymph nodes are enlarged or if organs such as the lungs or liver have suspicious spots, which might be from the spread of melanoma.
  • Genetic Testing identifies whether an individual has a certain genetic disease. This test detects a certain gene alteration, but is often not able to determine disease severity or age of onset. 
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scans show detailed images of soft tissues in the body. But MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. A contrast material called gadolinium may be injected into a vein before the scan to get clear pictures. 
  • PET Scans is a functional imaging technique that uses radioactive substances known as radiotracers to visualize and measure changes in metabolic processes, and in other physiological activities including blood flow, regional chemical composition, and absorption. It can show where your melanoma is and whether it has spread.
  • Ultrasound is an imaging method that uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body.
  • X-ray beams pass through your body, and they are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material they pass through. This will show if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. 

Treatment Options

Select a treatment option below to view different types of treatment available. 
Lymph Node Surgery

Surgical oncology is the field of cancer care that focuses on surgery to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage some cancer-related symptoms. Surgical oncologists work on a multidisciplinary team of physicians and clinicians to combine surgery with other therapies and procedures required by the patient’s comprehensive plan.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Removal and examination of the sentinel node(s). To identify the sentinel lymph node(s), the surgeon injects a radioactive substance, blue dye, or both near the tumor. The surgeon then uses a probe to find the sentinel lymph node(s) containing the radioactive substance or looks for the lymph node(s) stained with dye. The surgeon then removes the sentinel node(s) to check for the presence of cancer cells.

Lymph Node Dissection
A surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed and a sample of tissue is checked under a microscope for signs of cancer. For a regional lymph node dissection, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed; for a radical lymph node dissection, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed. 

Skin Surgery

Surgical oncology is the field of cancer care that focuses on surgery to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage some cancer-related symptoms. Surgical oncologists work on a multidisciplinary team of physicians and clinicians to combine surgery with other therapies and procedures required by the patient’s comprehensive plan.

Our surgical oncologists take the time to discuss with each patient the diagnosis and treatment options available to them, answering their questions and concerns. The surgical oncologists will work with the other team members—including nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic providers—to anticipate and manage side effects of surgery.

Whether you are a candidate for surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as your age, physical fitness and any coexisting medical conditions you may have.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Our reconstruction experts specialize in surgically recreating natural-looking parts of the body to help you maintain your natural appearance and improve the quality of life. Your plastic surgeon will work with you and your surgical oncologist to develop a personalized plan that helps you achieve your reconstruction goals. 

Click here to meet the Plastic/Reconstructive Surgery team. 

Medical Treatments

Medical Oncology uses chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted drug therapy to focus on specific mutations and to eliminate cancer cells. These therapeutics for skin cancers are usually given after surgery if the cancer is larger, has spread to the lymph nodes, or has other concerning pathologic features. These therapies might also be used before an operation to shrink a large cancer so that it’s easier to remove with surgery, reduce the bulk of tumor burden for symptom relief, or treat micrometastatic disease.

Click here to meet the Medical Oncology team.

Radiation Treatments

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays and protons, to eliminate cancer cells. It might be used to shrink a large cancer before an operation so that it can be removed more easily. When surgery isn’t an option, radiation therapy might be used to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Sometimes radiation is combined with chemotherapy.

Click here to meet the Radiation Oncology team.

Survivorship Resources/Patient Education

Although cancer doesn’t have to define you, the disease changes your life in a number of ways. You’ll have to deal with the immediate and long-term physical effects of treatment, ongoing screening and monitoring, new concerns about staying healthy and a wide range of emotions.

This post-treatment period is called survivorship. While survivorship varies from patient to patient, there are some common concerns that often affect cancer survivors. We encourage you to follow up with your specialist and team for local recommendations regarding survivorship resources and support programs. 

Meet the Surgeons

Sarwat Ahmad, M.D.

Surgical Oncology

Edward J. Ruane, Jr., M.D.

Reconstructive Surgery

Surgical Oncologist Locations

Village Square Outpatient Center
2000 Oxford Drive
Suite 301
Bethel Park, PA 15102
(412) 942-7850

Peters Township Outpatient Center
3928 Washington Road
Suite 270
McMurray, PA 15317
(412) 942-7850

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule your appointment at the St. Clair Hospital Breast Care Center, please call the specific service department below:

Surgical Oncologist

Plastic/Reconstructive Surgery

Radiation Oncology

Medical Oncology