Melanoma and Skin Cancer Surgical Options

Melanoma can spread through the skin locally, through the fixed conduits beneath the skin, known as lymphatics that connect to lymph nodes, or through the bloodstream. Surgical treatments may vary, depending on the location of the cancer.

In patients where the cancer may have spread to the lung or abdomen, the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program works with specialists from surgical oncology and thoracic surgery to offer minimally invasive surgical options.

For those diagnosed with melanoma, surgery to remove the primary tumor, and a safety zone of surrounding tissues, is often the first line of treatment. Newer plastic surgery procedures may avoid the need for skin grafting, and provide easier recovery for patients with less scarring.

Sentinel node mapping provides a minimally invasive “tracking system” to locate melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes and guides recommendations to wide excision alone, or for the removal of additional lymph nodes.

At the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center, surgeons are using regional chemotherapy techniques to treat patients with cancer that has advanced beyond a surgical cure, but is still limited to an organ or region of the body.

For these cancers, isolated perfusion chemotherapy (IPC) may be an option. In IPC, practitioners circulate a chemotherapeutic agent through the affected region at a very high concentration, with minimal exposure to the rest of the body.