When Does Skin Cancer Need Surgery?

When Does Skin Cancer Need Surgery?


Skin cancer has layers of complexity that can affect a dermatologist’s approach in terms of diagnosis and treatment. One of the most commonly asked questions about skin cancer treatment is whether or not a patient will require surgery. Although the answer ultimately requires a doctor’s consultation, here are some general guidelines that may indicate whether skin cancer may need surgery to remove.

Understanding Skin Cancer

Skin cancer begins when the DNA in our skin cells gets damaged, leading to mistakes or mutations in their genetic code. These cells may grow faster than they should and group together to form harmful growths or tumors.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer. In general, the more we expose our skin to these UV rays, the higher our chances of developing skin cancer. Your family’s genetics may also impact your susceptibility to skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer & Their Surgical Interventions

Skin cancer can take many forms. Each type of skin cancer has its own unique look, behavior, chances of spreading, and response to different forms of treatment.


Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma derive from the epidermal layer of the skin.

  • Basal cell carcinoma may require surgery when lesions present characteristics like a pearly appearance, raised borders with central ulceration, persistent bleeding, or non-healing sores.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma may require surgery if lesions show firmness, scaly or crusted surfaces, central ulcers, or rapid growth.

The surgical excision technique for each type of carcinoma involves removing the cancerous tissue along with a margin of healthy skin to ensure a thorough elimination of the cancer.


Melanoma is a more aggressive skin cancer that stems from pigment-producing cells. Surgery may be required when melanomas exhibit features like asymmetry, irregular borders, multiple colors, or a large diameter.

Similar to carcinoma, melanoma requires excision along with a margin of healthy skin. However, melanoma excisions often need to be wider to ensure the complete eradication of cancerous cells.

Contact Franks Dermatology About Surgery for Skin Cancer

The experts at Franks Dermatology provide comprehensive examinations and diagnostic tools to enable you to make informed decisions about your skin health. If the time comes to treat skin cancer, our team will discuss proposed interventions, potential outcomes, and recuperation timelines.

Early detection and intervention are essential for successful treatment of skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious changes in your skin, call Franks Dermatology at (501) 246-1042 right away to get started on a treatment plan that fits your preferences and medical needs.