Melanoma is an aggressive type of skin cancer: when left untreated, it can spread to other areas of the body. Melanoma develops in the cells, known as melanocytes, which are responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanoma typically forms in skin that has been frequently exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Melanoma can also develop in other areas of the body, such as eyes, nose, mouth, and throat, albeit much less common.
Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for many types of melanomas. The type of surgery necessary will depend on the stage and size of the cancer and the person’s overall health, among other factors.
In this article, we will discuss how melanoma is diagnosed and the types of surgeries available for it.
To diagnose melanoma, your dermatologist will carry out a thorough physical exam, along with some tests. They will also do a biopsy then send the tissue sample for analysis.
Your dermatologist may also require further tests to determine the stage of the cancer and to check whether it has spread to other areas like the lymph nodes.
Types of Surgeries Available for Melanoma
Once your dermatologist confirms a diagnosis and determines the stage and type of melanoma, they may recommend any of the following surgical techniques.
o Surgical Excision Surgery
Surgical excision (wide excision) involves surgically removing the tumor along with a predetermined, small amount of normal-appearing skin around the edges of the tumor, known as a margin. The size of the margin is determined by the location of the tumor and other factors. The specimen is then analyzed to ensure that no cancer cells are present on the edges of the skin.
o Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, is the most commonly used procedure for treating basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas (nonmelanoma skin cancers), but it is also widely used for treating small or early-stage melanomas, especially those in sensitive areas, such as the face.
Unlike conventional excision surgery, which involves removing a small amount of nearby healthy tissue, Mohs surgery enables your dermatologist to preserve as much healthy skin as possible, by removing only the skin that has the cancer cells.
o Lymph Node Dissection
Lymph node dissection surgery may be carried out if biopsy detects melanoma that has spread to lymph nodes— particularly those that are unusually hard or large.
This type of surgery involves removing all of the lymph nodes in the region, close to the primary tumor. This type of surgery is often a last-resort option, as it produces long-term side effects.
Skin Cancer Surgery in Miami, FL
If you’re looking for a reliable dermatologic surgeon within the Miami area, visit us at the Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center. Dr. Theodore John “TJ” Giuffrida, our board-certified dermatologist, has established an excellent reputation for performing numerous successful skin surgeries, helping scores of patients in and around Miami live well with or even beat skin cancer. He is one of the few dermatologists in the region qualified to perform Mohs surgery.