Melanoma removal is a surgery to remove cancer in skin tissue. The cancer is called
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A melanoma removal is done to treat melanoma. For some it may be a cure for melanoma.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a melanoma removal, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include: InfectionBleedingNerve damageScarringIncomplete removal of all cancerous cellsRecurrence or spread of cancer
may increase the risk of complications.
Depending on the stage of the disease, your doctor may do the following: Physical exam of skinBiopsy of any suspicious lesionBlood tests
Image tests such as
Local anesthesia is often used to numb the area where the cancer is removed.
may need to be used if the area is large. In this case, you will be asleep.
Surgical removal of the cancerous cells is the primary treatment for melanoma. Types of surgery include: Simple excision—The tumor is cut out, along with a small amount of normal skin at the edges. The wound is stitched back together. This type of surgery may leave a scar.Wide excision—The tumor is cut out along with a larger area of normal skin. This will help make sure there are no cancer cells left behind.Amputation—A finger or toe may be removed if the cancer is on the digit.Lymph node dissection—Nearby lymph nodes may be removed if there is concern that the cancer spread. The removed lymph nodes will be sent to a lab for study.
The area may be closed with stitches. A larger area may need to be covered with a
from another area of your body.
This depends on the extent of the melanoma and the type of surgery. Simple excision can take less than one hour.
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may have some pain around the wound during recovery. Medicine will help manage pain.
Keep the surgical area clean, dry, and protected by bandages.If recommended by your doctor, apply a nonprescription antibiotic ointment to the wound before applying bandages.Take any medications as prescribed.Avoid vigorous exercise according to your
doctor's recommendations.Return to have any stitches or staples removed when instructed.Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Talk to your doctor about appropriate ways to protect your skin against sun damage. These may include using sun block and wearing protective clothing. You will also need to have regular skin exams to look for the return of cancer cells. Do self-exams to look for any new or changing moles.
Your doctor can show you how to do a self-exam.
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occur: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision sitePain that you can't control with the medications you've been givenA new lump or discoloration in your skinA change such as color, bleeding, itching, or growth in an already-existing mole, either at the surgical site or in a new locationAny other new or concerning symptoms
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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