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How is a melanoma removed?

The gold standard treatment for melanoma remains surgical removal. Depending on how deep the melanoma is, sometimes an additional procedure called sentinel lymph node biopsy is done. This procedure can help give doctors better information in terms of prognostication (predicting survival) but the therapeutic benefit (cure rate) remains unclear.
Most of the removal, or excision, of a melanoma is the first thing done to begin treating the cancer. Often this can be done in your physician's office with local anesthesia causing little scarring. If the melanoma is larger and requires more extensive surgery, a better cosmetic appearance can be obtained with flaps made from skin that is near the tumor, or with grafts of skin taken from another part of your body. For grafting, the skin is removed from areas that are normally or easily covered with clothing.

Today, surgeons are removing less of the healthy skin around the tumor. Based on new guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, the margins, which are the borders of the entire area to be removed, are much narrower.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.