Melanoma Program

  • Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer.
  • While most melanomas occur on the skin, they can be found in other parts of the body, including the eye, mouth, liver, vagina, and colon.
  • If melanoma is found and treated in its early stages, the chances of recovery are very good.
  • If it is not found early, melanoma can grow deeper into the skin and spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment Plans May Include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy (biological therapy)
    • Works to boost, direct, or restore your body's natural defenses against disease
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery

Why Choose Holden for Your Care?

Patients of Holden Cancer Center benefit from a team-based approach that puts each patient at the center. At Holden, experts in specific cancer types—including a genetic counselor certified and specializing in cancer genetic counseling—is part of this team.

Holden patients also benefit from medical advances that take into account an individual’s tumor, genes, environment, and lifestyle to diagnose and treat their specific types of cancer. Known as personalized, or precision medicine, this highly specialized approach is part of Holden’s commitment to providing life-changing medical treatments and care.

Team-Based Cancer Care for You

Our team of specialists focuses not just on melanoma, but on your melanoma. We bring experts from different fields of medicine to work together in a multidisciplinary oncology group. Our team meets regularly to discuss the best course of treatment and design the best personalized plan for every patient. The team includes radiologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, social workers, pathologists, pharmacists, nurses, and laboratory-based scientists. Our physicians are also researchers helping to find new and innovative treatments and therapies for melanoma. They know the newest, most effective treatments for your specific cancer. 

"Comprehensive" NCI Designation

According to a recent study published in the journal Cancer, patients treated at NCI-designated cancer centers have better survival outcomes than patients treated at non-NCI-designated cancer centers. Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa is the only institution in Iowa to hold the prestigious designation of being a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), meaning we are rated in the top 4 percent of the approximately 1,500 cancer centers in the United States. Our teams have expertise in clinical, laboratory, and population-based research. Our doctors and staff stay on top of the newest developments in cancer research, treatment, and diagnosis.

What Sets Us Apart

  • A Dermatology Clinic specializes in screening patients who are at high risk for melanoma. Our Melanoma Follow-Up Clinic sees patients once they are stable and maintaining their health. 
  • Melanoma and Sarcoma Tissue Repository: We collect melanoma tissue samples (cancer cells) and patient information that allow scientists to do research projects. This is an invaluable tool allowing us to enhance our knowledge and develop new treatment options.
  • New infusion suite was designed with patients in mind. Our infusion suite is a comfortable, welcoming environment for patients receiving chemotherapy treatments. Take our virtual tour.
  • Our clinical trials give you early access to the most recent, advanced treatment options. This may include drugs not yet on the market and other treatments under development that have the potential to increase survival rates and improve quality of life.
  • The only place in the state to offer Mohs surgery for thin, noninvasive melanoma (hasn't spread from its original location) for those in need of tissue sparing.
  • We are a member of the Midwest Melanoma Partnership, giving you access to even more clinical trials and research knowledge through our partner institutions.

The Power of Clinical Trials and Research

Clinical trials is where research meets patient care. Clinical trials are research studies that test out the latest treatments and drugs that are not yet available to the public. These new treatments have the potential to improve your quality of life or increase your chances of survival.

This is an exciting time in the world of melanoma research. Since 2011, nearly a dozen new drugs have been approved for melanoma treatment, and more are likely coming. Our physicians are knee-deep in this research, and they understand these new developments.

Enrolling soon: An exiting new study will be testing an anti-PD-1 drug called Pembrolizumab which may have the potential to reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery.

See all clinical trials at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Support Our Mission

Our work is made possible in part by the support of donors through charitable giving. Friends of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center can become partners in the effort to control and ultimately cure cancer. Learn how you can help us make a difference for cancer patients.


    Watch the video below to learn about how melanoma starts, spreads, and is diagnosed.


    Melanoma Multidisciplinary Team (Melanoma MOG)

    Physician, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

    Physician Assistant, Internal Medicine