Surgery to remove the tumor is the main treatment for melanoma. Surgery may involve a wide excision to remove the tumor as well as some normal tissue around the edges. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, doctors may perform a sentinel node biopsy to confirm that there are melanoma cells in the lymph nodes, followed by a lymph node dissection to remove all of the lymph nodes in the area near the melanoma.
Lymph Node Dissection
A lymph node dissection is typically performed to remove any tumors present in the lymph nodes. Lymph node dissections are often undertaken in the groin region specifically.
Reconstructive surgery for melanoma is used to rebuild areas damaged by the tumor. Skin grafting may be done to replace skin that was removed by surgery. Reconstructive surgery may also be necessary when surgery is used instead of radiation therapy to remove skin cancer on the nose, eyelids, lips, or ears. Reconstructive surgery can help restore a natural appearance, improve the look and feel of scars, and ease pain or discomfort.
For a large tumor that cannot be removed with surgery or one that has spread beyond the top layer of skin to the lymph nodes or nearby tissue, patients may need other skin cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, in combination with reconstructive surgery. These more complex treatment approaches are reviewed and planned in collaboration with other specialists on the Fox Chase skin cancer treatment team.