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Reasons for Procedure
- Nerve damage
- Incomplete removal of all cancerous cells
- Recurrence or spread of cancer
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Description of the Procedure
- Simple excision—The tumor is cut out, along with a small amount of normal skin at the edges. The wound is stitched back together. This type of surgery may leave a scar.
- Wide excision—The tumor is cut out along with a larger area of normal skin. This will help make sure there are no cancer cells left behind.
- Amputation—A finger or toe may be removed if the cancer is on the digit.
- Lymph node dissection—Nearby lymph nodes may be removed if there is concern that the cancer spread. The removed lymph nodes will be sent to a lab for study.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
- Keep the surgical area clean, dry, and protected by bandages.
- If recommended by your doctor, apply a nonprescription antibiotic ointment to the wound before applying bandages.
- Take any medications as prescribed.
- Avoid vigorous exercise according to your doctor's recommendations.
- Return to have any stitches or staples removed when instructed.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you can't control with the medications you've been given
- A new lump or discoloration in your skin
- A change such as color, bleeding, itching, or growth in an already-existing mole, either at the surgical site or in a new location
- Any other new or concerning symptoms
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgery http://www.plasticsurgery.ca
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.
Lens MB, Nathan P, Bataille V. Excision margins for primary cutaneous melanoma: updated pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Surg. 2007;142(9):885-891.
Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.
Melanoma: diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology website.Available at: http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/melanoma/diagnosis-treatment/melanoma-diagnosis-treatment-and-outcome. Accessed April 9, 2013.
Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003120-pdf.pdf. Updated January 17, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.
Physician quality reporting system quality measures. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed April 9, 2013.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: 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.e8.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 04/2013 -
- Update Date: 04/09/2013 -