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 often is used for BCC and SCC on lower risk body sites (such as the body or arms/legs) and 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, the procedure can cure melanoma. In other cases, additional treatments may be required.
Since wide-local excision requires the removal of healthy skin, it results in a larger wound. In certain places on the body, such as the head and scalp, it can be difficult to suture the wound edges back together, necessitating skin grafts to close the wound. Recovery time can vary greatly depending on the size and site of the cancer.