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Treating melanoma

melanoma exam Melanomas are always removed. This is called excision. Many GPs will do this themselves, or they may get another GP to do the excision.

The cost of excision varies between doctors, and with the type and size of the lesion. You may be eligible for a subsidy to help you pay for the excision. Talk to your general practice team about this.

Wider excision

Many melanoma will need to have a bigger area of the surrounding skin removed. This is called a wide local excision, and is done by a plastic surgeon at Christchurch Hospital, or privately.

If your melanoma is large or spreading across the skin then your surgeon may need to cut out a larger amount of skin. If the remaining skin cannot be pulled together and stitched then you may need a skin graft – taking skin from another part of your body to put over where the melanoma has been removed from.

Lymph node dissection

Depending on the stage of melanoma you have, it may be necessary to remove all the lymph nodes in the surrounding area. For more information, see lymph node dissection.

Non-surgical treatments

If your cancer is more advanced, you may be referred to the oncology clinic to meet a cancer specialist. They may recommend additional non-surgical cancer treatments. These can include chemotherapy (drugs that kill cancer cells), immunotherapy (drugs that stimulate your own immune system to act against cancer cells) or radiotherapy (using radiation to kill cancer cells).

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical directors, Plastic Surgery and Dermatology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2021.


See also:

Risks and complications of skin surgery

Having an anaesthetic

Page reference: 37530

Review key: HIMEL-15455