Skin Cancer, Melanoma
Melanoma may be cured if it's found and treated in its early stages when it affects only the skin. If melanoma has spread, it is much harder to treat.
How much and what type of treatment you need depends on the Reference stage.
Treatments for melanoma include:
- Reference Surgery. The entire melanoma is cut out, along with a border (margin) of normal-appearing skin.
- Reference Chemotherapy Opens New Window, which uses medicines to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.
- Reference Immunotherapy Opens New Window, which uses medicines to help your body's immune system fight the cancer.
- Reference Targeted therapy Opens New Window, which uses medicines that block cancer growth.
Metastatic and recurrent melanoma
Melanoma can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, where it can cause tumors. When melanoma has spread and appears as a tumor in another part of the body, it sometimes can be successfully treated with Reference surgery. But metastatic melanoma usually needs other treatments, too, such as Reference chemotherapy Opens New Window, Reference interferon, Reference immunotherapy Opens New Window, or Reference radiation therapy.
Melanoma can come back after treatment. This called recurrent melanoma. All of the treatments mentioned above may be used for recurrent melanoma as well as:
- Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion. If the melanoma is on your arm or leg, chemotherapy medicine may be added to a warm solution and injected into the bloodstream of that arm or leg. The flow of blood to and from that limb is stopped for a short time so the medicine can go right to the tumor.
- Medicines injected directly into the tumor.
- Lasers to destroy the tumor.
If your melanoma can't be cured, your doctors will try to control symptoms, reduce complications, and keep you comfortable.
Your doctor may recommend that you join a Reference clinical trial if one is available in your area. Clinical trials may offer the best treatment option for people who have metastatic cancer. Clinical trials study other treatments, such as combinations of chemotherapy, vaccines, and immunotherapies. They are also studying targeted therapy.
Regular follow-up appointments are important after you have been diagnosed with melanoma. Your doctor will set up a regular schedule of checkups that will happen less often as time goes on.
To learn more about specific treatments for melanoma, go to the National Cancer Institute's website at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/melanoma.
Finding out that you have cancer can change your life. You may feel like your world has turned upside down and you have lost all control. Talking with family, friends, or a counselor can really help. Ask your doctor about support groups. Or call the American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345) or visit its website at www.cancer.org.
Your quality of life may be improved by having Reference palliative care Opens New Window to manage your symptoms.
For some people who have advanced-stage cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for hospice care.
It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment to prolong your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care.
To learn more about supportive care, see:
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 12, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology