Skin cancer dermatology, also known as skin oncology, is a dermatological specialty focused on the care of patients who have skin cancers. Practitioners in this specialty are fully qualified dermatologists, and some pursue fellowships in skin cancer to get additional training and experience. They work at hospitals, clinics and treatment centers, and employment prospects in this field can be quite good, because skin cancer is an ongoing medical problem in many regions of the world. Especially in regions where the ozone layer is thin or where numerous people are exposed to environmental contaminants associated with cancer, there might be a ready supply of patients.
Specialists in skin cancer dermatology are familiar with the myriad presentations of skin cancer, prevention techniques and treatment options. They can evaluate patients who are suspected of having skin cancer or who are at risk of skin cancer to determine whether abnormal cells are present and to make recommendations. These recommendation might include avoiding risks such as industrial exposure or starting a monitoring program for a patient who has a potentially worrying growth that is not large or serious enough to merit immediate treatment.
In the event that a patient has an identifiable skin cancer, a skin cancer dermatology specialist can provide treatment. This might include surgery to remove the growth, along with chemotherapy and radiation to kill the cancerous cells. Patients often receive treatment from a team of providers who work together to provide the highest quality of care and treatment options. A radiation oncologist, for example, can target the delivery of radiation therapy to increase its effectiveness.
Research opportunities are available to specialists in skin cancer dermatology. They can work on the development of new diagnostic and monitoring techniques as well as innovative treatments to aggressively manage skin cancer. Other dermatologists might work in public education and outreach to provide information to members of the general public about skin cancer and risks. This work can include free screenings and other outreach programs to encourage people to get regular skin care.
Training for a career in skin cancer dermatology can be lengthy, with undergraduate education, medical school and residency all being necessary. Fellowships in this field might add another one to two years to a doctor's training. Dermatologists who have board certification and fellowships to their credit might find more job opportunities available, because some employers prefer to hire extremely qualified and experienced applicants. Doctors who want to work in research also need a track record of publication credits that they can include in résumés and applications.