About Surgical Excision for Skin Cancer
Surgical excision refers to a procedure in which tissue is removed and sent for post-operative histologic analysis. It may be performed for either diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
When used for diagnosis, either the whole lesion may be removed or part of the lesion may be removed depending on the clinical circumstance. Post-operatively, the tissue is examined by a pathologist to determine the diagnosis. An example would be the removal of a clinically atypical-appearing mole to determine whether it represents melanoma or a benign nevus.
If the diagnosis is already known (for example, if a biopsy has already been performed), the goal of surgical excision is the complete removal of the lesion. A margin of normal-appearing tissue is removed along with the lesion to assure a clear margin. The specimen is sent for histologic examination to confirm that the margins are clear. Therapeutic surgical excision is usually performed on skin cancers.
If you have been scheduled for surgical excision, please review our Surgical Excision Information Packet.