Melanoma removal is a procedure to remove cancer from the skin.
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This procedure is done to treat melanoma. For some, it may be a cure for melanoma.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Smoking may increase the risk of complications.
Depending on the stage of the disease, your doctor may do the following:
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.
Surgical removal of the cancer cells is the primary treatment for melanoma. Types of surgery include:
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.
This depends on the extent of the melanoma and the type of surgery. Simple excision can take less than 1 hour.
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may have some pain around the wound during recovery. Medication will help manage pain.
After a rest, you will be able to return home the same day. Your doctor will want to check on your progress and remove stitches or staples in. It is important to go to any appointments as recommended.
In more advanced cases of melanoma, other treatments may be necessary. These include:
Having melanoma puts you at risk for developing more. Talk to your doctor about 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 any 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 if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Dermatology
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgery
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.
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Melanoma. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/melanoma. Accessed March 5, 2018.
Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115302/Melanoma . Updated February 28, 2015. Accessed March 5, 2018.
Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer.html. Accessed March 5, 2018.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use : 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.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 4/3/2018