Skin Cancer: How to Treat Early-Stage Melanoma

Posted on: 26 May 2015


If you went to your dermatologist due to an odd-looking spot on your face, they probably ran a biopsy to determine if it was skin cancer. If you got the diagnosis of melanoma, you know it is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. There are different stages of melanoma, based on where the tumors are located. Ealry-stage melanoma is usually localized and considered non-invasive. Here are the treatment options for each type of tumors.

Stage 0

The earliest stage melanoma skin cancer is stage 0. If you catch your skin cancer in this stage, you are lucky since it only affects the top layer of skin. The most common treatment option for stage 0 skin cancer is to remove the melanoma from the skin in a surgical procedure called excision. A small amount of skin is removed along with the melanoma. If you have stage 0 skin cancer, this surgery will most likely remove the cancer.

Stage 1

The next level of skin cancer is stage 1, which is also considered an early-stage form of skin cancer. With this stage, the melanoma has gone below the first layer of skin, but hasn't gone too deep yet and has not spread to other parts of your body. Surgical removal of the melanoma is required, which may also require removing a good deal of your normal skin. The amount will depend on the size of the melanomas.

This is a minimally-invasive procedure often performed in an outpatient setting. If the stage 1 melanoma was stage 1B, your doctor might suggest doing mapping and biopsy as you are at risk of it spreading to your lymph nodes.

Stage 2

The last of the early-stage melanoma stages is stage 2. This is determined by the thickness and size of the melanoma. With stage 2 skin cancer, the melanoma is larger and might be spreading close to your lymph nodes. If this occurs, you will probably get a sentinel lymph node biopsy in addition to removing the melanoma and affected skin surrounding the cancer. If the biopsy shows the melanoma is affecting the sentinel node, you will need to get a lymph node dissection later on to remove it.

Skin cancer at later stages may require additional treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Be sure you always examine your skin closely for any unusual spots or bumps, and always wear sunscreen when you go outdoors. See a professional like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center for more information.