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Types of Melanoma

Melanoma is an aggressive, fast-growing cancer that grows not only in skin, but also in other areas. At the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine, our melanoma specialists treat all kinds of melanoma — skin and non-skin types. We also treat other skin cancers, providing exceptional care to destroy cancer and help you keep up with your daily activities.

What Are the Main Types of Melanoma?

Melanoma grows in cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin, the pigment that colors the skin, hair and eyes. The most common types of melanoma that we see include:

Other Types of Skin Cancer We Treat

Our specialist team also diagnoses and treats people with common skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Other, rarer types of skin cancer we treat include:

  • Apocrine carcinoma: Cancer that develops in a sweat gland
  • Cutaneous leiomyosarcoma: Cancer that grows in the middle layer of skin (the dermis) or deepest (subcutaneous) layer
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans: Cancer that forms in connective tissue cells in the dermis
  • Merkel cell carcinoma: Cancer that develops near nerve endings in the top layer of skin (the epidermis)
  • Microcystic adnexal carcinoma: Cancer that tends to grow in sweat glands in the head or neck
  • Sebaceous carcinoma: Cancer that begins in oil glands in the skin

Care for Different Melanoma Types: The Penn Medicine Advantage

At the Tara Miller Melanoma Center, part of the Abramson Cancer Center, our cancer specialists take a team approach. We offer:

  • Specialized expertise in melanoma: Our doctors have fellowship (advanced) training in cancer, dermatology, radiation therapy, surgery and other areas of medicine. Our nurse practitioner has specialized oncology training and more than 15 years’ experience with the team. We meet weekly as a team, bringing together expertise in several fields to discuss treatment options for people with complex cases. Meet your melanoma and skin cancer team.
  • Comprehensive, personalized care: Our thorough evaluation includes sophisticated testing to confirm an accurate diagnosis. We then tailor a treatment plan to provide the best possible care for you. You receive the latest treatment options, including Mohs surgery, immunotherapy and targeted therapy, many of which can provide a cure. Learn more about melanoma treatments at Penn Medicine.
  • Emphasis on patient education: Your care team teaches you effective ways to help prevent or reduce the risk of melanoma. In our community, we offer a free, annual skin cancer screening and an annual melanoma conference for patients. Our specialists frequently speak at community support groups for people with an increased risk of melanoma, such as those who have had organ transplants.

Our Services and Treatments for Various Types of Melanoma

When you come to our melanoma specialists, we begin with a comprehensive evaluation, including testing to confirm an accurate diagnosis. Find out more about our process for melanoma diagnosis and second opinions on a cancer diagnosis.

Although it’s not possible to completely prevent melanoma, you can reduce your risk of developing it. Your care team can teach you ways to help prevent melanoma or detect it early, when it’s most treatable. Learn more about melanoma risks and prevention.

Request an Appointment with a Penn Melanoma Expert

Call 800-789-7366 to schedule an appointment with one of our melanoma experts. You can also request an appointment using our online form.

Mucosal Melanoma

Our experts treat mucosal melanoma, a cancer that grows in mucous membranes inside areas such as the nose, sinuses, mouth and esophagus. Learn the signs.

Eye (Ocular) Melanoma

Ocular melanoma is the most common type of eye cancer. Learn about symptoms and advanced care from the eye and uveal melanoma doctors at Penn Medicine.