Treatment overview

Treating melanoma

If the results of your excision biopsy confirm that you have a melanoma, you may be seen by two or more specialists who work as part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT). They include:

  • dermatologists
  • skin cancer nurse specialists
  • plastic surgeons
  • oncologists (doctors who specialise in the treatment of cancer)

The MDT will take a number of factors into account when advising you on the best treatment for your melanoma. They will consider a number of things, such as your general health, the stage of the melanoma and where it is on your body.

Most people diagnosed with melanoma will have surgery after their mole has been removed. This surgery is known as a wide local excision. It’s done to make sure that all the melanoma cells in the area where the mole was have been removed. This reduces the chance of the melanoma coming back.

Benefits and disadvantages of melanoma treatment

It’s important to be aware of the benefits and disadvantages of surgery to remove your lymph nodes and to discuss these with your doctors before your treatment.

In many cases surgery to remove affected lymph nodes helps control the local spread and growth of the melanoma.

Disadvantages

Surgery to remove the lymph nodes will leave a scar on your skin, which will become less noticeable with time. You may want to discuss with your doctor and nurse what the scar may look like after surgery.

Removing the lymph nodes can sometimes lead to lymphoedema. This is a swelling of an arm, leg or other part of your body, depending on which lymph nodes were removed. There are ways you can help lower your risk of lymphoedema or reduce its severity if it does develop.

There’s still a risk that the melanoma may come back again after removing the lymph nodes.

Back to Understanding your diagnosis

Just been diagnosed

Just been diagnosed with cancer? We're here for you every step of the way. There are many ways we can help.

Staging and grading

The stage of a cancer describes its size and if it has spread. Knowing this helps doctors plan the best treatment for you.

My Cancer Treatment

Macmillan is supporting a new online tool to help you make decisions about your treatment and care. The tool currently only covers England.