Treatment for patients in Fort Washington with melanoma
Melanoma is a specific type of skin cancer that can be potentially fatal if not diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Melanoma develops in the skin cells called melanocytes that produce pigment. Its prognosis is determined by the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. Cancer staging for melanoma considers the thickness of the malignancy, the activity of the cancer cells, and if the melanoma has spread to other areas of the body.
The main form of treatment for melanoma is surgical removal. The type of surgical removal is determined by the depth of the lesion. For melanomas that are in situ or a very shallow depth, surgical removal of the melanoma along with a margin of surrounding skin is typically all that is needed.
Surgical removal of the melanoma is done in our office under local anesthesia.
The doctor will draw an outline around the cancerous cells and a small area of healthy, non-cancerous skin known as the margin area. This area will then be numbed so the lesion and margin can be cut out and removed. This removal of this healthy tissue is necessary in order to determine if the cells have extended further underneath the skin. This tissue is then sent to a laboratory where it is processed to be examined under a microscope. If the margin has any cancer cells, an additional surgery may be required, although this is a rare occurrence.
In most cases, Mohs is not the standard treatment for melanoma. This is because the Mohs technique involves removal of thin layers of tissue, freezing them, and then evaluating the edges under a microscope in the office while the patient waits. Melanocytes do not respond well to this freezing which makes it difficult to tell if the margin is clear or not. We use a modified Mohs technique where we surgically remove the tissue in the same way as Mohs surgery, but have the tissue processed in an outside lab to preserve the tissue perfectly. This process takes about 24 hours, so you would know the next day if you need to have additional surgery. While not as convenient as regular Mohs, it allows for the identification of the melanocytes much more precisely to ensure complete removal of the cancer and a higher cure rate.
For more information, contact the Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Fort Washington today (215) 392-6680.