Melanoma is a potentially invasive condition, which deserves care from a specialist clinic. The support of a multidisciplinary team and in particular skilled surgeons can in most cases bring successful treatment.
This should be based on sound diagnosis. To ensure differentiation between melanoma, or similar looking pigmented skin conditions and to accurately identify the depth, or spread of cancerous cells.
A surgical biopsy may be taken, although our consultants have a proven alternative. A laser scanning system called confocal microscopy, which allows them to look beneath your skin, in a similar way to seeing tissue under a microscope.
Confocal microscopy is available at both our London clinics, to avoid physical biopsies and provide real time analysis. No discomfort, or scarring and in cases where melanoma treatment is required, valuable time is saved.
A combination of the latest technology, a consultant’s experience and discussion with you will see a treatment plan swiftly under way.
Early Stage Treatment
In the vast majority of cases, the main treatment for melanoma is surgery. For early stage melanoma, this may be the only treatment needed for a cure. The cancerous tissue and a small area around this is removed.
The degree of tissue removal depends on the depth and position of the melanoma. Consideration is naturally given to future movement and cosmetic appearance, a small incision may be fine with stitches, otherwise plastic surgery techniques are available.
These can include a skin graft, although flap surgery is often preferable for a good outcome. Our consultant surgeons are experienced in cosmetic aspects and where required, our in house restorative surgeon will assist.
Generally however, early stage melanoma removal is a small operation, carried out under local anaesthetic. We simply wanted you to be aware of other possibilities.
Later Stage Cases
The core issue with melanoma is an ability to spread through the body over time. In a more developed case which is close to lymph nodes, your consultant may use a technique called sentinel node biopsy, to see if they are affected.
Where there is a confirmed issue, additional surgery may be required to remove lymph nodes. This is known as a lymph node dissection and whilst not a long operation, is normally carried out under general anaesthetic.
In the most advanced cases, surgery may still play a part in treatment, although other options are likely to be employed. They can include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, where your own immune system is stimulated to help.
The latter of those is a more recent treatment and still improving with research, along with other areas such as melanoma vaccines and targeted genetic therapy.
Our team of specialists are at the forefront of skin cancer treatment and there to ensure patients access the best possible treatment. Even so, we should again stress that these apply to a quite small percentage of cases.
Care At Our Clinics
Above all, we want patients to be well. Should you have one, or multiple melanomas, you will be treated by specialists, which could include a consultant dermatologist, plastic surgeon, pathologist and well trained nurses.
In a high proportion of cases, once a melanoma is appropriately removed, no further treatment should be needed. Your consultant will arrange monitoring where required, although up to date melanoma treatment holds good long term cure rates.
The best contribution anyone can make to skin cancer treatment and cure is early detection. If you are concerned about an area of your skin, contact our London clinics. Knowledgeable staff can advise and arrange a private consultation where this will assist.
Ensuring patients are informed on melanoma is helpful, by all means look through dedicated information on our website:
- Melanoma in the UK – An overview of where we are, symptom management and a few myths dispelled.
- Total Body Dermoscopy – A state of the art combination of body imaging and digital dermoscopy.
- Mole Screening & Melanoma – A complete view of moles, your health and options such as mole mapping.
- Confocal Microscopy – A digital, laser based system, able to look beneath the surface of your skin.
- Research & Guidelines – Details of an internationally recognised study and how our clinics match up.