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Surgery for melanoma

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Melanoma surgeries

Surgery for melanoma

Surgery is the primary treatment for early and intermediate stage melanoma, and for advanced stage melanoma in some cases. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our experienced, highly skilled surgeons and surgical oncology teams regularly perform procedures to remove melanoma tumors.

For thin, localized melanomas, surgery alone is often curative. However, if your surgeon or surgical oncology team believes that additional melanoma cancer procedures are necessary, they have a variety of options to choose from.

Simple excision

A relatively minor procedure called a simple excision is usually performed under local anesthesia to remove premalignant melanomas. During this type of cancer surgery, your doctor will remove the melanoma along with a small amount of surrounding normal skin.

Re-excision or wide excision

If the diagnosis of invasive ("malignant") melanoma has already been made, then your doctor may perform a melanoma cancer surgical procedure known as a wide local excision to remove an additional margin of normal skin around the melanoma tumor.

Surgery for metastatic melanoma

While cancer surgery alone often cannot cure melanoma that has spread to distant organs ("metastases"), your surgeon may still recommend the removal of the primary tumor and/or the known metastases in order to alleviate symptoms, and to improve patient quality of life.

Lymph node dissection

Since nearby lymph nodes are usually the first place melanoma spreads to, your doctor will usually remove one or more lymph nodes to look for cancerous cells, using a specialized procedure known as sentinel lymph node biopsy. If the sentinel node shows no sign of cancer, then no additional lymph node surgery is necessary. However, if melanoma cells are found in the sentinel lymph node(s), or in any other lymph nodes, then the remaining lymph nodes in the region are usually also removed.

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