Munson Health
 
Melanoma Removal

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by Abouzied M
 

What to Expect

Anesthesia

Local anesthesia is often used to numb the area where the cancer is removed. General anesthesia may need to be used if the area is large. In this case, you will be asleep.

Description of the Procedure

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 skin graft from another area of your body.

After Procedure

In more advanced cases of melanoma, other treatments may be necessary. These include:

How Long Will It Take?

This depends on the extent of the melanoma and the type of surgery. Simple excision can take less than one hour.

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may have some pain around the wound during recovery. Medicine will help manage pain.

Postoperative Care

  • 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.
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

Canadian Society of Plastic Surgery
http://www.plasticsurgery.ca

 

References


Bichakjian CK, Halpern AC, Johnson TM, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of primary cutaneous melanoma. American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol . 2011;65(5):1032-1047.


Lens MB, Nathan P, Bataille V. Excision margins for primary cutaneous melanoma: updated pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Surg . 2007;142(9):885-891.


Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.


Melanoma: diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology website.Available at: http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/melanoma/diagnosis-treatment/melanoma-diagnosis-treatment-and-outcome . Accessed April 9, 2013.


Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003120-pdf.pdf . Updated January 17, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.


Physician quality reporting system quality measures. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.


6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med . 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

 

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