Treatment Options for Stage 0 Melanoma

The standard of treatment for Stage 0 melanoma (in situ) is re-excision of the original site with a surrounding area of normal-looking skin being taken. The standard amount of normal skin is 0.5 centimeters in every direction around the original cancer. This procedure may be done in a doctor’s office under local anesthetic.


The purpose of surgery is to remove any cancer remaining after the biopsy. This procedure is called a wide excision.

The surgeon removes the rest of the tumor including the biopsy site, the surgical margin (a surrounding area of normal-appearing skin), and the underlying subcutaneous tissue, to make certain the whole tumor has been removed.

The width of the margin taken depends upon the thickness of the primary tumor. Most surgeons follow the guidelines adopted and recommended by the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization Melanoma Program: at least 0.5 centimeter margins in all directions (less than 0.25 inch).

The surgery typically results in a scar at least 4-5 cm (about 2 inches) in length, but it may be longer depending on the location on the skin and the size and orientation of the biopsy site. Skin grafting may sometimes be required to cover the wound, especially if it is on the face, the fingers, or toes.

Learn more about surgery
Learn about follow-up care for Stage 0

Survival Rates

The overall survival rate (5 or 10 years) for Stage 0 is 99% to 100%. That means that almost all people diagnosed with Stage 0 have survived for 5 to 10 years after diagnosis1.

Learn more about Stage 0 melanoma


1. Balch CM, Buzaid AC, Soong SJ, et al. Final version of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system for cutaneous melanoma. J Clin Oncol. 2001;19(16):3635-3648.

Related Content

What to Ask Your Doctor About Stage 0 Melanoma

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Follow-Up for Stage 0 Melanoma

Follow-up care is important after being treated for melanoma. Learn about a plan for your stage.

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