Melanoma/Cutaneous Malignancies Pretreatment Consultations & Education

Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are some of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. Over 68,000 patients have been diagnosed with melanoma and over 2,000,000 with non-melanoma skin cancer in the past year. Local surgical oncologist, Jai Balkissoon, MD, FACS, recognized the need for East Bay patients and physicians to be aware of optimal diagnostic techniques and treatments for these cancers which are potentially aggressive. In 2003, Dr. Balkissoon established a tumor board as part of the Bay Area Tumor Institute to provide consultations and education addressing the specific needs of patients diagnosed with these skin cancers.

Free evaluations are available for East Bay melanoma and cutaneous malignancy patients. Physicians may refer a patient or patients may self-refer. Pretreatment conferences are conducted for newly diagnosed or recurrent melanoma patients who, in the opinion of their physician or the Medical Director of the Melanoma Program, might benefit from a multi-disciplinary educational case review. At each conference, a panel of specialists examines patients, reviews case histories, pathology slides, laboratory studies, x-rays, relevant CT/MRI scans, and then considers treatment options. The Medical Director will discuss these options with the patient several days following the conference. The melanoma tumor board panel includes surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, dermatologists, dermatopathologists, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, and psychosocial support with our social worker.

Depending on the nature of the case, patients may have to be present for examination but will not attend the conference that follows. Examinations are conducted in Oakland, one Tuesday of each month, from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. Patients must be scheduled by the Monday preceding a conference.

Patients will not be charged for these services and the Melanoma Center will not deliver any treatments. The goal of this program is to help patients and their current physicians to choose among optimal treatments and identify the means of obtaining them.

Medical professionals who wish to be on the email list (call 510-725-2162 for a consultation) will be contacted once each month, describing the cases that will be presented. Information about the date, time, site, parking and other relevant details will be provided in each communication.

Patients can call (510) 725-2162 or send a brief email to jaibalk@comcast.net to determine whether they might benefit from consideration of their case by the tumor board. Once the case presentations have been established, Mary Dynan, coordinator for the BATI melanoma/cutaneous malignancy tumor board, will follow up with all participants with pertinent details. Mary can be contacted by email at mary4130@att.net or directly at 510-725-2162.