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Melanoma Surgical Excision

The surgery to remove a melanoma removes the entire melanoma along with a border (margin) of pseudo-healthy skin. The width of the border of normal skin removed depends on the depth of the melanoma. Additional tissues, mostly skin and fat, must also be removed from under the melanoma.

Small incisions can be closed with stitches and they can heal without any further complications. Large excisions are those that are located on the hands, face and feet and usually require a skin graft to close the wound after surgery. The type of anesthetic used for the surgery depends on the size and location of the melanoma. Surgery on small melanomas could require just a local anesthetic while surgery for larger melanomas may require general anesthesia.

After The Surgery

Recovery after the surgery to remove the melanoma depends upon the size and scope of the surgery. The wound will most likely take longer to heal if reconstructive surgery techniques such as skin grafts are used.

Why Consider It

This particular surgery is done depending on the stage of the melanoma. Primary melanoma (melanoma in situ or stage II cancer or I) is treated with surgical excision of the lesion. If the melanoma is thin and has not deeply invaded the surrounding tissues, the cancer can be cured just by removing the melanoma. Stage III primary melanoma with lymph node involvement is treated with surgery to remove the primary melanoma and lymph nodes in the region of the primary melanoma. The goal of the treatment for metastatic melanoma (stage IV) is to relieve symptoms and prolong life. It cannot possibly cure the cancer.

Does This Method Give Results?

Surgery to remove primary melanoma can cure melanoma in stage I cancer. Stage II cancer can be often cured too. Sometimes stage III cancer is cured or at least, survival rates are extended if the lymph nodes are also removed. Surgery provides the most effective and longest-lasting relief of symptoms but it does not always cures metastatic melanoma.

Risks of surgery to remove melanoma include:

Infection.
Scarring.
Bleeding.
Rejection of skin graft.

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