These are only general guidelines and not meant to replace instructions from a physician. Please talk with your physician about your specific condition.
Skin cancer, which develops in the tissues of the skin, is a common form of cancer. Risk factors for developing skin cancer include spending too much time in the sun or in tanning beds and having a family history of skin cancers.
The three most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell cancer in the deeper layer of the skin, squamous cell cancer on the surface of the skin, and melanoma, which is cancer of the cells that make pigment.
Prior to your surgery for skin cancer, you may need additional evaluation with imaging studies. Occasionally, some patients are referred to medical or radiation oncologists before surgery to discuss options for non-surgical treatments depending on the type and stage of the skin cancer.
In addition you may be asked to:
Please ask your physician about any additional steps you should take before your surgery.
Surgery for skin cancer involves removing the area of cancer and underlying fatty tissue as well as a margin of normal-appearing skin and fatty tissue around the cancer. The size of this margin varies based on the type of skin cancer you have, as well as the size of the cancer and its location. This margin is determined to decrease the risk of the cancer coming back or recurring at the same location. The method of closing the incision is based on the size of the area removed as well as the location of the cancer. While most of these areas are closed as a straight line incision with sutures, a small percentage may require a skin graft, where skin is transferred from another part of the body to allow for wound closure. Your surgeon will be able to discuss this in detail at your consultation.
In addition to removing the cancer in the skin and a margin of normal-appearing tissue, your surgeon may discuss removing a lymph node sample at the time of surgery for some skin cancers based on characteristics noted at the time of your initial biopsy. Your surgeon will discuss this with you at your consultation, if it applies to you.
If you have additional questions, please contact us at 763.780.6699.