Surgery for melanoma
Surgery is the primary treatment for localized melanoma. 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 is often curative and the only treatment that is necessary. However, if your surgeon or surgical oncology team believes additional melanoma cancer procedures are necessary, they have a variety of options to choose from.
A relatively minor procedure called a simple excision is usually performed under local anesthesia to remove thin melanomas. During this type of cancer surgery, your doctor will remove the melanoma along with a small amount of surrounding normal skin (known as the margin). The amount of normal skin removed depends on the thickness of the tumor.
Re-excision or wide excision
If the diagnosis of melanoma was made using a biopsy sample, or if cancerous cells are found in the margin of the original simple excision, your doctor may perform a melanoma cancer surgical procedure known as a wide excision to remove additional tissue.
Surgery for metastatic melanoma
While cancer surgery alone cannot cure melanoma that has spread to distant organs, your surgeon may remove the primary tumor or the known metastases in order to alleviate symptoms, and improve patient quality of life.
Lymph node dissection
Since nearby lymph nodes are usually the first place melanoma spreads, your doctor will usually remove one or more lymph nodes to look for cancerous cells. If nearby lymph nodes are abnormally hardened or enlarged, or imaging results show possible cancer cells, your doctor may remove all of the lymph nodes close to the original melanoma.
If there is no overt sign of cancerous cells in the nearby lymph nodes, your doctor will usually remove one lymph node, in a process known as sentinel lymph node biopsy. If the sentinel node shows no sign of cancer, no additional surgery is necessary. However, if melanoma cells are found in the sentinel node, the remaining lymph nodes in the region are usually removed.
Learn more about melanoma cancer treatment