Smaller operational margins just as safe in high-risk melanoma

Source: Karolinska Institutet EN, July 2019

The standard treatment for aggressive skin cancer is to surgically remove the tumour. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now show that a 2 cm operational margin is sufficient, as opposed to the close to 4 cm margin previously applied by surgeons. For the study, which is published in The Lancet, the researchers monitored over 900 patients for an average span of 19 years after surgery.

Malignant melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer and one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in Sweden. Early discovery of the disease is important and the standard treatment is surgery, but exactly what surgical excision margin is needed to prevent relapse is a moot point.

“We show that a total of 2 cm surgical margin is just as safe as a 4 cm margin for high-risk melanoma,” says Peter Gillgren, researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, and surgeon at Stockholm South General (Söder) Hospital. “This follow-up study confirms our previous results but with an even greater degree of reliability since we now have the longest follow-up time in the world for a study such as this.”

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