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Melanoma Removal

  • Definition

    Melanoma removal is a surgery to remove cancer in skin tissue. The cancer is called melanoma .
    Melanoma
    Melanoma
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Reasons for Procedure

    A melanoma removal is done to treat melanoma. For some it may be a cure for melanoma.
  • Possible Complications

    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:
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Nerve damage
    • Scarring
    • Incomplete removal of all cancerous cells
    • Recurrence or spread of cancer
    Smoking may increase the risk of complications.
  • What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure
    Depending on the stage of the disease, your doctor may do the following:
    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.
  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
    • Pain that you can't control with the medications you've been given
    • A new lump or discoloration in your skin
    • A change such as color, bleeding, itching, or growth in an already-existing mole, either at the surgical site or in a new location
    • Any other new or concerning symptoms
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
  • 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. 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. 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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