Management of Skin Cancer in the High-Risk Patient

James W. Behan, Adam Sutton, Ashley Wysong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Skin cancer is the most common of human cancers and outnumbers all other types of cancer combined in the USA by over threefold. The majority of non-melanoma skin cancers are easily treated with surgery or locally destructive techniques performed under local anesthesia in the cost-effective outpatient setting. However, there is a subset of “high-risk” cases that prove challenging in terms of morbidity, mortality, adjuvant treatment required, as well as overall cost to the health care system. In our opinion, the term “high risk” when applied to skin cancer can mean one of three things: a high-risk tumor with aggressive histologic and/or clinical features with an elevated risk for local recurrence or regional/distant metastasis, a high-risk patient with the ongoing development of multiple skin cancers, and a high-risk patient based on immunosuppression. We have recently proposed classifying NMSC as a chronic disease in a certain subset of patients. Although no consensus definition exists for a chronic disease in medicine, there are three components that are present in most definitions: duration of at least 1 year, need for ongoing medical care, and functional impairment and/or alteration of activities of daily living (ADLs) and quality of life (QOL). Immunosuppression can refer to exogenous (organ or stem cell transplant patients,) or endogenous (HIV, leukemia, lymphoma, genodermatoses with DNA mismatch repair problems or other immunosuppression) causes. These patients are at risk for high-risk tumors and/or the development of multiple tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalCurrent treatment options in oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-fluoruracil
  • Acetretin
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Cetuximab
  • Cisplatin
  • High-risk
  • Imiquimod
  • Mohs surgery
  • Radiation
  • Skin cancer
  • Sonidegib
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Surgery
  • Transplant
  • Vismodegib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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