Skin cancer can come in many different shapes and sizes. Some malignancies are common and some are rare. Some are slow-growing while others are aggressive.
Ideally, each case of skin cancer would be caught early when it’s more treatable. But when these malignancies progress into advanced stages, specialized care – and the right cancer treatment team – is crucial.
In addition to providing melanoma care, Ma specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of other advanced stage cutaneous malignancies, including Merkel cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
“Over time, I’ve developed a strong interest in the full spectrum of skin cancers,” Ma said. “I’m really excited to help a wide variety of these patients here in Wisconsin.”
A Nevada native, Ma joined the UW faculty in August 2021 and instantly doubled the size of UW Carbone’s melanoma oncology team. He joins Mark Albertini, MD – a melanoma expert who’s been treating patients at UW Carbone for nearly 30 years.
“We really complement each other in terms of our clinical and research interests and how we treat our melanoma patients,” Ma said. “Additionally, Dr. Albertini has also been an excellent colleague to work with.”
Prior to coming to Madison, Ma completed his undergraduate and medical school education at the University of Nevada, as well as his internal medicine training at the University of Michigan. It was there he completed his hematology and medical oncology fellowship at the Rogel Cancer Center, focusing his clinical and research efforts on melanoma and other skin cancers.
During that time, he contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications and high-impact studies, including research on the management of immune related adverse events from immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, which has emerged in recent years as an effective metastatic melanoma treatment.
He’s also received accolades for his work, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conquer Cancer Merit Award and the Michigan Medicine Rogel Cancer Center Excellence in Clinical Research Award.
In many ways, coming to UW Carbone – an institution that marries cutting-edge research and patient care, along with a strong dermatology program – was a perfect fit.
“I was enthusiastic about being recruited to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center because of its robust research program,” Ma said. “I also wanted the opportunity to help grow a cutaneous oncology program.”
Going forward, Ma will bring that strong interest in clinical research and drug development to UW Carbone’s Cancer Therapy Discovery and Development (CTD2) program. Working with laboratory scientists, his mission is to help take ideas generated in the lab and develop them into novel treatments to be tested in early phase clinical trials for melanoma patients.
In addition, Ma said he’s looking to expand the portfolio of clinical trials at UW Carbone for other types of advanced skin cancer. In the near future, he hopes to open additional studies for patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and even uveal melanoma – a rare but relatively deadly cancer of the eye.
“For patients who have limited treatment options, many are unable to travel long distance for clinical trials,” Ma said. “We want patients to be able to participate in these trials closer to home. There are many studies that I’m hoping to have opened here and I’m excited about what lies ahead.”