Dr. Steven Rueda is one of the most sought after skin melanoma doctors in Palm Beach. Although it can occur in other areas of the body, melanoma is a common form of skin cancer. The name melanoma was given because it originates from cells in the epidermis called the “melanocytes”. These cells are responsible for generating pigment in the skin. There is not a single cause to melanoma, but sun exposure and genetic factors have been considered important in its development.
Melanoma is one of the most serious and aggressive forms of skin cancer and requires diligent treatment. The diagnosis is usually made after the patient presents to a dermatologist with a suspicious or abnormal appearing “mole” or “skin spot”. Biopsy of the suspicious lesion is the gold standard in diagnosing a melanoma. Once the initial biopsy confirms the diagnosis the next step is staging the cancer and coming up with a treatment plan.
Typically presents as a pigmented skin lesion. Although skin lesions are common through the body melanomas typically have the following features that distinguishes them from other lesions
- Pigmented Lesion
- Asymmetry of the shape
- Irregular Borders
- Irregular color or changing colors within the lesion
- Large Diameter
- Changing appearance
The mainstay treatment for melanoma is surgery, and involves removing the cancer with a border of healthy skin around it (called the “margin”). The amount of skin removed around the skin cancer depends on the depth of the tumor as identified in the biopsy. In most patient’s there is a border of 0.5-2cm that needs to be removed. After the tissue is removed the newly created wound needs to be repaired and this requires the assistance of a Plastic Surgeon specialized in melanoma reconstruction. This reconstruction may be done borrowing tissue from areas nearby, called “flap” reconstructions. These techniques restore the patient’s appearance and function as best possible after removal of the cancer.
In some cases, it may be necessary to take a sample or remove the lymph nodes of the armpit, trunk, or neck. The skin in the body is drained by a network of channels called the lymphatics. It is thought that if melanoma spreads out of its local environment, it does so through these channels. The first stop these channels have is a structure called “lymph node”. Biopsy of this structure is called a sentinel lymph node biopsy. If cancer is found in this lymph node then the treatment options for the patient change as it has spread beyond its local environment. For those who have already spread to the sentinel node, a procedure that removes the entire lymph nodes in that area may be indicated. This procedure is called a lymph node dissection and may be indicated in the armpit, groin, or neck regions.
Dr. Rueda specializes in melanoma removal, reconstruction after removal, and lymph node removal. He has extensive experience in reconstruction after melanoma to help the patient’s achieve good cancer control, cosmetic appearance, and functional outcomes. Melanoma care requires a team approach with collaboration of dermatologist, plastic surgeon, oncologist, and radiation oncologists. Dr. Rueda partners with these specialists to provide comprehensive care to every patient.
Why Choose Precision Plastic Surgery for your Melanoma Procedure?
Dr. Rueda, a Cleveland Clinic trained surgeon who has 7 years and 2,000 procedures of experience in Plastic Surgery will be your safe and best choice for melanoma reconstruction. Successful results in this procedure require a surgeon that is experienced, artistic, and detailed oriented. Dr. Rueda has published articles on melanoma in expert peer reviewed journals, and his work has been presented in several national plastic surgery conferences. Dr. Rueda’s passion for patient education and custom centered approach will guarantee you feel comfortable every step of the way. Dr. Rueda also believes in treating his patients as if he was treating his own family; you can trust you will enter a trusting long-term relationship and have the best melanoma treatment Palm Beach can offer.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Almost all patients are good candidates for melanoma reconstruction. Specific patient factors may cause one option to be better than others. The focus of reconstruction is to re-establish function and cosmetic appearance.
This usually depends on the stage and depth of the melanoma upon diagnosis. There are other factors in biopsy that may prompt the need to perform lymph node sampling. Each decision is made on a case by case basis.
Surgery removes the tumor with a border of healthy skin ranging from 0.5cm-2.0cm in most cases. Although there are indications based on tumor depth, the margins are also decided on a case by case basis depending on the area of the body.