Melanoma is a common type of skin cancer that can be detected early during a routine skin cancer check. If melanoma is found, the treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy may be needed like it is with many other types of cancer. Surgery is often used to treat melanoma too. Here's a look at having surgery as a form of melanoma cancer treatment.

Surgery To Remove Melanoma

The extent of the surgery you need depends on how large the melanoma is underneath your skin. It's difficult to tell how much the melanoma has spread just by looking at the surface of your skin. If the melanoma is deep, the doctor may need to scoop out a large part of the tissue under your skin, and you could be left with a depression and a large scar. You might even need a skin graft to close the wound.

If the melanoma is caught before it's had time to grow large, only a small portion of the tissue under your skin may need to be removed, so there will only be a tiny scar. However, no matter how small or large the melanoma is, the doctor needs to cut away healthy tissue that's nearby so no cancer cells are left behind.

Surgery That Minimizes Disfigurement

If the melanoma is on your face, the doctor may take a different approach to removing the growth. Rather than remove the melanoma all at once, the doctor may cut off small portions at a time. This is done so the doctor can check for cancer cells before cutting off more tissue. The end result is the removal of cancer while removing the least amount of healthy tissue so the scar is as small as possible.

This type of surgery is known as Mohs surgery, and it's common for certain types of skin cancer. It's not always recommended for melanoma cancer treatment since melanoma grows fast due to its aggressive nature. Your dermatologist will consider Mohs surgery for melanoma on a case-by-case basis.

Surgery To Remove Lymph Nodes

When the doctor removes the melanoma, they may also biopsy a lymph node to check if the cancer has spread. If cancer is detected in the nearby lymph nodes, it may be necessary to have surgery to remove them. The location of the melanoma determines what lymph nodes need to be removed.

Removing the lymph nodes may help stop the spread of cancer. If your doctor determines the lymph nodes need to be removed, they will probably schedule the surgery for later as an outpatient surgery that requires general anesthesia.