Melanoma incl Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer but if not treated it can prove fatal. In women, melanomas usually appear on the legs and in men predominantly on the back. If the tumour is not detected during its early stages, extensive surgical intervention may become necessary to remove the tumour and reconstructive surgery may be needed to repair the site. Dr Vlad will normally perform a SLNB (Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy) which is a surgical procedure to determine the extent of the melanoma, before any drastic surgery is undertaken.

How do I recognise a skin cancer?

Basal and squamous cell carcinomas can vary widely in appearance.

The cancer may appear as:

  • Small, white or pink nodules or bumps that are smooth and shiny, waxy, or pitted on the surface
  • A red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly
  • A firm, red lump that may form a crust
  • A crusted group of nodules
  • A sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal after two to four weeks
  • A white patch that looks like scar tissue

For melanomas, watch for the “ABCD” warning signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry – a growth with unmatched halves
  • Border irregularity – ragged or blurred edges
  • Colour – a mottled appearance, with shades of tan, brown, and black, sometimes mixed with red, white, or blue
  • Diameter – a growth more than 6 millimetres across (about the size of a pencil eraser), or any unusual increase in size.

It is important that you get to know your skin and examine it regularly, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, including your back.  If you notice any unusual changes on any part of your body, call Dr Vlad and come in for an examination. It is always best to see Dr Vlad where you have a suspicious lesion.  A biopsy (tissue sample) is often the first step to determine whether the lesion is cancerous.  The sooner you act on a suspicious lesion, the better.

  • Will I have scarring?

    Scars are an inevitable part of any invasive surgery.  Dr Vlad will endeavour to minimise scarring and to keep your scars as inconspicuous as possible.

    Dr Vlad will also provide you with a scar management protocol, and discuss the best option for you.

  • Will I need revisional surgery?

    In the case of removing a large skin cancer, further surgery may be necessary. If the cancer is large or if it has spread to the lymph glands or elsewhere in the body, major surgery may be required. It is important that you have realistic expectations of the functional and cosmetic outcomes from the surgery.

    Discuss your concerns with Dr Vlad and your options in achieving the best outcome.