Skin Cancer Home > Surgery for Melanoma
If you have melanoma, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more types of surgery for your treatment. The first surgery is a biopsy, which will confirm the diagnosis. If the melanoma was completely removed during surgery, additional surgery may not be needed. Lymph nodes may be removed to help prevent the cancer from spreading.
An Overview of Melanoma Surgery
The most common treatment for melanoma is surgery. The first surgery for melanoma will be a biopsy, which is performed when making a melanoma diagnosis. If the doctor was able to completely remove a very thin melanoma during the biopsy, further surgery may not be necessary.
If the melanoma was not completely removed during the biopsy, the doctor will need to take out the remaining tumor. In this surgery, the surgeon will remove the tumor and some normal tissue around it. This procedure reduces the chance that cancer cells will be left in the area. The width and depth of surrounding skin that needs to be removed will depend on the thickness of the melanoma and how deeply it has invaded the skin.
If a large area of tissue is removed, the surgeon may do a skin graft. In this procedure, the doctor will use skin from another part of the body to replace the skin that was removed. If you have a skin graft, you may have to take special care of the area until it heals.
Lymph nodes near the tumor may be removed because cancer can spread through the lymphatic system. If the pathologist finds cancer cells in the lymph nodes, it may mean that the disease has also spread to other parts of the body.
Two procedures that are used to remove the lymph nodes are:
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy
- Lymph node dissection.