Expert cancer care.
Your treatment begins with your Legacy Cancer Institute doctor recommending a plan based on expert guidelines, called protocols. Your treatment is determined by:
- The location of the tumor
- The extent of the disease, called the stage
- Any tests you have had during diagnosis
- A discussion about what is right for you
Melanoma is a less common, but more complex, skin cancer. Learn more about other skin cancer treatments.
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Melanoma treatment options
There are five different types of standard treatment for melanoma. As with many cancers, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are among them. In addition, biologic therapy and targeted therapy can be used to treat melanoma.
Surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of melanoma. The melanoma is removed in a wide local excision, the cancer and the skin and tissue around it are cut out.
- It’s important to know if the melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes. Doctors may perform various tests such as lymph node mapping or sentinel lymph node biopsy. If the tests show cancer in the lymph nodes, they are also removed by surgery, called a lymphadenectomy.
- After the cancer in the skin is removed, some people need reconstructive surgery to cover the wound caused by surgery. For wounds that are shallow, doctors may use a skin graft, taking skin from another place on the body. Deeper wounds may require a more extensive procedure known as a skin flap.
Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to lower the risk cancer will return; chemotherapy after surgery is called adjuvant therapy.
Radiation used in treating melanoma is the external type and can either be curative or given to relieve symptoms.
Targeted therapy: Different than traditional chemotherapy; this treatment can help stop cancer from growing and spreading by targeting specific genes or proteins.
Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to treat cancer (also called biologic therapy).
Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating melanoma. There may also be a clinical trial (research study) for which you are eligible. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care.
What happens next
Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these side effects in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.
To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.
You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.