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Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms in a cell called a melanocyte in the middle layer of the skin. Melanocytes give color to our skin, usually distributed evenly but more pronounced in moles or freckles. Melanoma cancer cells are typically colored dark brown or bluish and grow irregularly on the skin.

One may be surprised to learn that the Pacific Northwest has the highest incidence rate of melanoma skin cancer in the country. There are several risk factors that include, but are not limited to:

  • Being fair-skinned
  • A history of blistering sunburns at a young age
  • Having specific genes linked to melanoma
  • Environmental risk factors (radiation, solvents, polyvinyl chloride, and PCBs)


Melanoma is often diagnosed between 30 and 50 years old and is usually found by the patient or a loved one. While associated with sunburns, melanoma can also originate in areas of the body not typically exposed to sunlight, such as the eye. Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer because of its ability to spread to other areas of the body, also known as metastasis. Specific tests may be performed at diagnosis, including a biopsy of the lesion and surrounding tissue, a blood test known as LDH, and genetic testing of the tumor itself. Subsequently, a diagnosis with a specific disease staging can be made with treatment recommendations. Treatment for melanoma varies and depends on the stage of the disease. Research has proven that a new class of drugs known as immunotherapy can be highly effective in fighting this disease without the side effects other treatments can carry.

At Salish Cancer Center, we treat patients who have been diagnosed with melanoma at all stages of their care. For some, this is their first time undergoing treatment, while for others, cancer may be reoccurring, or they are seeking a second opinion. In addition, our medical oncologists work with many outside physicians, such as surgeons, radiation oncologists, and dermatologists, who may also play a role in your cancer care.


Patients throughout the Northwest travel to experience our unique integrative model of care, which also includes naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and Native Healing. Our Naturopathic doctors meet with each patient to discuss dietary interventions, supplements, and lifestyle recommendations that may further advance the efficacy of conventional treatment, prevent and treat side effects, and strengthen the immune system. A treatment plan is tailored to each patient and is modified when pertinent changes occur. This personalized approach is an essential example of what makes Salish Cancer Center a unique healing environment for our patients and caregivers.
For more detailed information on melanoma, potential treatments, or to learn more about our services, please continue reading through our site and see the Resources section below.

We accept most insurance plans, and our financial counselor is available to discuss pricing and fees before your first visit. However, all pertinent records must be received by our clinic before your appointments are scheduled so that we may give you our most well-informed recommendations.

Our caring support staff is available by phone to answer questions and schedule consultations. Whether you are newly diagnosed with melanoma, exploring further options, or would like a second opinion, the combined expertise of the physician team at Salish Cancer Center is here for you.

Helpful Links for Melanoma Patients and Caregivers

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