The Cutaneous Oncology Program at Washington University is a leader in research and the care of patients with skin cancers for decades.
Our multidisciplinary team incudes physicians from medical oncology, surgical oncology, dermatology, pathology, and radiation oncology and meets regularly to optimize and deliver the best care possible to patients. We have a very robust clinical trial portfolio in attempt to help our patients and advance science.
Make an Appointment
Referring physicians or patients can call 314-747-1171 to schedule a consultation with one of our Cutaneous Oncology Program physicians.
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Our dedicated team specializes in diagnosing and treating skin cancers. We conduct consultations for more than 400 newly diagnosed skin cancer patients annually and provide ongoing evaluation and treatment for over 4,000 individuals affected by these diseases each year. As a result, our program stands as one of the largest of its kind in the country. The physicians of the Cutaneous Oncology Program are experienced in treating patients with a range of diagnoses, including malignant melanoma, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and other rare skin tumors.
Our Treatment Approach
Collaboration and teamwork are fundamental principles of the Washington University Cutaneous Oncology Program. Our physicians work closely with a diverse group of specialists, including surgeons, dermatologists, radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, and other supportive care experts. This collaborative, multidisciplinary approach ensures that patients receive not only the best medical treatment but also the necessary support to manage the physical and emotional challenges associated with skin cancers.
Patients begin their journey with an initial consultation with one of our team members, who confirms the diagnosis and conducts essential studies for accurate staging. Many of our patients may also be eligible for participation in clinical trials involving new drugs or innovative drug combinations. Your physician will discuss these options with you to determine the best course of action for your individual case. Treatment options that we offer include:
- Targeted therapies
- Cellular therapies
- Investigational agents
George Ansstas, MD
Dr. Ansstas is the clinical director of the cutaneous oncology program. He is in charge of developing and running multiple clinical trials to improve outcomes in patients with skin cancers. He has special interest in developing therapies that can target cancer genetic and epigenetic changes and understanding the interplay between these changes and immune response/resistance.
Tanner M. Johanns, MD, PhD
Dr. Johanns is interested in developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment of skin cancers. His laboratory is focused on using state of the art technologies to understand mechanisms of resistance to current immunotherapies as well as identifying key factors important for successful immune responses. The goal is to use this information to rationally design novel strategies that overcome these barriers of resistance and to translate these novel approaches into early phase clinical trials for patients with skin cancer.
Charles K. Kaufman, MD, PhD
Dr. Kaufman sees patients with advanced skin cancer, including melanoma, squamous and basal cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma. He runs a basic science laboratory with a focus on the earliest stages of cancer formation and the role that genetic, epigenetic, and nutritional factors play in controlling melanoma initiation.
Jesse W. Keller, MD
Dr. Keller is a clinical investigator with clinical and research interests in the treatment of metastatic and locally advanced malignant melanoma. He has prior research training in outcomes research techniques by completing an MPHS through Washington University in St. Louis. He is currently working collaboratively with VA data in the investigation of oncologic outcomes.
Alice Y. Zhou, MD, PhD
Dr. Zhou’s research is focused on developing novel therapeutics for skin cancers including cellular therapies and immunotherapy combinations. She works closely with laboratory scientists using state of the art technology to study the skin cancer tumor micro-environment.
- James Wischmeier, ANP
- Julia Seibert, ANP
- Michelle Bloom, RN
- Terri Clancy, RN
- Emily Peck, RN
- Krystal Prater, RN
Research and Clinical Trials
Our team has an interest in understanding the interplay between the skin cancers genomic alterations and the tumor immune cells. We are studying multiple concepts to overcome the resistance to immunotherapy by making tumors more exposed to immune cells. Some of these approaches are based on targeting genomic alterations with targeted therapies and/or stimulating or augmenting immune cells through antibodies or cellular therapies such as T-cells and NK cells.
Ongoing Clinical Trial Highlights
- Adjuvant pembrolizumab and hypofractionated radiation therapy for the treatment of mucosal melanoma
This is an open-label, single center, one cohort, non-randomized, phase I/II study. The aim is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the combination of hypofractionated radiotherapy (HRT) and pembrolizumab on local tumor control in mucosal melanoma patients. Treatment effect will be compared with historical radiation therapy-alone control data.
- Phase 1/2 Study of an EZH2 inhibitor (tazemetostat) in combination with dual BRAF/MEK inhibition in patients with BRAF-mutated metastatic melanoma who progressed on prior BRAF/MEK inhibitor therapy
This phase I/II trial investigates the best dose, possible benefits and/or side effects of tazemetostat in combination with dabrafenib and trametinib in treating patients with melanoma that has a specific mutation in the BRAF gene (BRAFV600) and that has spread to other places in the body (metastatic). Tazemetostat, dabrafenib, and trametinib may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth. Giving tazemetostat in combination with dabrafenib and trametinib may stabilize BRAFV600 mutated melanoma.
- A phase II randomized study of tiragolumab plus atezolizumab versus atezolizumab in the treatment of stage II melanoma patients who are ctDNA-positive following resection
This study’s hypothesis is that patients with stage II melanoma who test positive for circulating tumor DNA are at a higher risk for recurrence and therefore adjuvant treatment is justified. In this study, the blood of consenting and eligible patients will be tested for ctDNA and those patients who test positive will be randomized on a 1:1 basis to either treatment with atezolizumab and tiragolumab or atezolizumab alone during Stage 1