Melanoma Treatment: Medicine
After melanoma is confirmed by a melanoma biopsy, and the stage of melanoma is determined, there are a broad number of drug treatments that are used to reduce or eliminate melanoma tumors, and to combat the spread of melanoma. Some treatments are used by themselves, while other protocols incorporate multiple treatments together, designed to improve the results.
Some melanoma treatments are used when tumors are present and measurable. These treatments tend to focus on the goal of reducing or eliminating tumors that are already present. Other treatments are used in what is called the "adjuvant" setting, which means that there is no evidence of melanoma tumors in the body. These adjuvant treatments focus on the goal of preventing melanoma tumors from forming in the future.
Melanoma treatment depends on the stage of growth it has reached. In most cases, your doctor will recommend surgery to remove the melanoma tumors. For more advanced stages, your doctor will also likely recommend additional treatment which could include immunotherapy or chemotherapy.
The typical protocols for melanoma treatment are based on Stages is outlined here:
Stage Protocol for Melanoma Treatment
- Stage 0: Surgery alone has a nearly 100% cure rate
- Stage 1: Surgery to remove the tumor is generally sufficient
- Stage 2: Surgery to remove the tumor. In some cases, the doctor may want to perform a lymph node biopsy. In some cases, a standard treatment of Interferon is recommended.
- Stage 3: Surgery to remove the tumor, generally recommended with margins of at least 1cm. Sometimes, the doctor may recommend removal of the lymph nodes in the area near where the affected lymph have been detected. Or a standard treatment of Interferon is recommended
- Stage 4: Depending on where the melanoma has spread, the treatment protocol may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy, some of which may be part of a clinical trial.
After treatment, your doctor will want to see you every 3 to 6 months for the next 5 years. During these visits, your doctor will check to see whether the cancer has returned and if you have any new melanomas. If the melanoma has metastasized, you will also most likely need to get new scans, either a CT scan or an MRI or a PET scan, depending on the stage the melanoma reached.
Additionally, experimental treatments are treatments being tested in a clinical trial. In order for you to get into a clinical trial to receive the experimental treatment, you need to find it, qualify for it, and get accepted into it. Once accepted, many trials will pay for the melanoma treatment, and some will even pay for travel expenses.
Effect of Drugs on Melanoma
Read more about Melanoma and Drugs.
Effect of Surgery on Melanoma
In its early stages, if melanoma is confined to the skin (primary melanoma), surgery to remove the affected skin is generally recommended. If the melanoma is thin and has not invaded surrounding...
Read more about Melanoma and Surgery.
Effect of Chemotherapy on Melanoma
There are a number of chemotherapies that are used in melanoma treatment. In some cases they are used on their own, and in other cases they are combined together, or combined with other therapies...
Read more about Melanoma and Chemotherapy.
Effect of Interferon on Melanoma
If the melanoma is Stage 2 or higher, your doctor may recommend one of a number of treatments used to stop the growth of melanoma, kill tumors, or prevent recurrence. The only FDA approved “standard”...
Read more about Melanoma and Interferon.