Last September, the Stanford Cancer Center opened a new clinic to address the skin-related side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Stanford dermatologist Bernice Kwong, MD, recognized this unmet need while seeing oncology patients during her recent dermatology residency. A story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle (subscription required) highlights the Supportive Dermato-Oncology Clinic and the emergence of this new subspecialty in dermatology. Kristen Brown writes:
Some patients see a skin issue as a side effect not serious enough to schedule yet another doctor’s appointment. The dermato-oncology clinic not only specializes in treating dermatological problems particular to cancer patients, it conveniently does so where they already are: the Cancer Center.
“Patients feel bad if they think about their skin, because it seems so trivial compared to cancer,” said Dr. Bernice Kwong, a clinical assistant of dermatology at Stanford who founded the clinic. “Even it is a pretty significant skin issue, the tendency is to say, ‘I can tough this out. It’s just skin.’ ”
A skin condition, though, can be a serious issue for cancer patients. Skin problems can be itching, painful or infected. They can also cause patients embarrassed by their appearance to feel self-conscious. “It can really decrease quality of life,” said Kwong.