Dermatologists Offer Preventative and Reactive Care

Surgery Types Used To Treat Malignant Melanoma

Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. While it can be life-threatening, if caught early, the prognosis is often excellent. Melanoma is staged, and Stage I is the earliest stage, while Stage IV is the latest. In all stages of melanoma, however, surgical intervention is generally recommended. Here are some types of surgery that your melanoma cancer treatment physician may recommend.

Wide Excision 

During wide excision surgery, your physician removes the malignant tumor as well as a portion of the surrounding tissue, known as the margin. This is to help ensure that no malignant cells are left behind. In addition to this, a lymph node biopsy will also be performed during your surgery so that it can be sent to the hospital's pathology department.

There, the pathologist will examine the lymph node under a microscope to determine if your melanoma has metastasized, or spread. If your excisional surgery is extensive, a skin graft may be necessary to close your wound. While wide excision surgery may be extensive, it is almost always performed in an outpatient setting. Your recovery from your wide excision surgery will be relatively fast and you will start to feel "like yourself" after only a few days.

Complete Dissection 

An important part of your melanoma cancer treatment plan is getting the proper diagnostic testing for staging and treatment purposes. If your lymph node biopsy is positive for metastatic disease, a complete lymph node dissection will be performed. During this procedure, the other lymph nodes in the area of the positive lymph node will be removed so that your melanoma is less likely to spread to other parts of your body.

It is thought that having a lymph node dissection can improve survival rates in people with late-stage malignant melanoma. Undergoing a complete lymph node dissection may even result in a complete cure. While most people tolerate the lymph node dissection procedure well, some people may develop a condition known as lymphedema, which refers to the buildup of fluid in the arm or the leg. It may also lead to numbness and tingling over the area in which the lymph nodes were removed, and in some cases, skin breakdown over the surgical site may develop.

If you have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, talk to your dermatologist about your treatment options. After your treatment is complete, your physician will recommend regular skin screenings so that you can be monitored for recurrence or new skin cancers. For more information, contact a professional who provides melanoma cancer treatments