Skin Cancer Surgery:

If your doctor suspects that a spot on the skin is cancer, you may need a biopsy. For a biopsy, your doctor may remove all or part of the skin that does not look normal. The sample goes to a lab. A pathologist checks the sample under a microscope.

There are four common types of skin biopsies:

  • Shave biopsy: The doctor uses a thin, sharp blade to shave off the abnormal growth.
  • Punch biopsy: The doctor uses a sharp, hollow tool to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal area.
  • Incisional biopsy: The doctor uses a scalpel to remove part of the growth.
  • Excisional biopsy: The doctor uses a scalpel to remove the entire growth and some tissue around it. This type of biopsy is most commonly used for growths that appear to be melanoma.

If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, the surgical treatment depends on the type, size and location of the skin cancer, how far it has spread, and your overall health.  In most cases, the goal of treatment is to remove or destroy the cancer completely. Most skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early.

The most common surgical treatment of skin cancers is excisional skin surgery. The surgeon removes the cancer with a scalpel. The surgeon also removes a border (a margin) of normal skin around the growth. The margin of skin is examined under a microscope to be certain that all the cancer cells have been removed. The thickness of the margin depends on the size of the tumor.

Depending on the type of cancer, if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, these lymph nodes may also be removed.

If a large area of tissue is removed, the surgeon may do a skin graft. The doctor uses skin from another part of the body to replace the skin that was removed. The surgeon removes a patch of healthy skin from another part of the body, such as the upper thigh. The patch is then used to cover the area where skin cancer was removed. If you have a skin graft, you may have to take special care of the area until it heals.

Your surgeon may also recommend the assistance of a plastic or reconstructive surgeon, depending on the extent and the area of the surgery.





National cancer institute