Rights: The University of Waikato Published 29 July 2008 Download

Dr Elizabeth Baird, specialist dermatologist at Remuera Dermatology, outlines the procedure used to diagnose and remove a melanoma.


When we make a decision to remove a melanoma, obviously first of all we discuss it with the patient. Normally, if I am going to do the procedure, we got to the little theatre we have in the rooms, and we draw around the mole, and then we inject some local anaesthetic, and then we cut around it and send the specimen away to the laboratory to get tested, and then sew up the wound. When we get the results back, very often clinically we know it’s a melanoma, but the information from the laboratory helps us a lot, because it tells us how thick the melanoma is and how much it’s penetrated into the different structures of the skin. And that is very, very important information to then explain to the patient what the risks are of the melanoma spreading, because we know that thin melanomas are much less likely to cause death than thick ones. So we have a lot of information then that we can then make a plan on how to further manage that patient.

Eileen O’Shea
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