In wide-local excision, the skin cancer and a small margin of healthy tissue around it is cut out, usually in a football-shaped ellipse. Once the tissue has been removed, the edges of the wound are sutured together. The tissue then is sent for processing and margin evaluation by a pathologist.
Wide-local excision is often used for basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas on lower risk body sites such as the body, arms, and/or legs. It is most effective for early stage melanomas that still are confined to the skin and have not spread into deep levels of tissue or other parts of the body. If caught early enough, the procedure can literally cure melanoma. In other more complicated or advanced cases, additional treatments may be required.
Since wide-local excision requires the removal of healthy skin, it results in a larger wound. For small, well-placed tumors, it offers results that are both medically and cosmetically effective. It offers a high cure rate and allows for microscopic examination of surrounding tissue. And, unlike chemotherapy and radiation, it can be accomplished in one session. However, in certain places on the body, such as the head and scalp, it can be difficult to suture the wound edges back together which may then require skin grafts to close the wound. Recovery time can vary greatly depending on the size and site of the cancer.
While wide-local excision is a safe and effective procedure, all medical procedures carry some risk, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified surgeon. Risks include:
• Allergic reaction to anesthetic
• Healing problems