Melanoma can be treated in various ways. Which treatment may work best for you? It depends on the size, place, and stage of your melanoma.
If your healthcare provider thinks you might have melanoma, you will likely need certain exams and tests to be sure. Diagnosing melanoma starts with your healthcare provider asking you questions. He or she will ask you about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease. Your healthcare provider will also examine you. He or she will take a close look at any suspicious moles or other marks on your skin.
You’ve been diagnosed with melanoma
It’s normal to feel afraid. Learning about your cancer and the treatment options you have can make you feel less afraid. This also helps you work with your healthcare team and make the best choices for your treatment. You can also ask to speak with a counselor. Here are some questions you can ask.
Tests after a diagnosis of melanoma
Once you’re diagnosed with melanoma, you may need more tests. These tests help your healthcare providers learn more about your cancer. They can help show if the cancer has grown into nearby areas or spread to other parts of your body. The test results help your healthcare providers decide the best ways to treat the cancer. If you have any questions about these or other tests, be sure to talk with your healthcare team. You may need one or more of these tests.
Treatment for melanoma
Melanoma can be treated in various ways. Which treatment may work best for you? It depends on a number of things. These include the size, place, and stage of your melanoma. Factors also include your age, overall health, and what side effects you’ll find acceptable. Here are some questions to ask about your treatment options.
Surgery for melanoma
The goal of surgery is to remove the melanoma but leave as much of the nearby skin as intact as possible. Surgery can also be used to help treat melanoma that has reached the lymph nodes
Radiation therapy for melanoma
The goal of radiation is to destroy cancer cells. It may be used after surgery to try to kill any cancer cells that are left. It may also be used to help treat melanoma that has come back after a first treatment or has spread to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays or other types of radiation.
Chemotherapy for melanoma
The goal of chemotherapy is to destroy cancer cells directly to shrink tumors that can’t be removed by surgery. Or it may be used to kill cells that have spread to other areas of your body (metastatic melanoma). Chemotherapy is done with medicines.
Immunotherapy for melanoma
The goal of immunotherapy is to boost your body's immune system to shrink advanced melanoma tumors. This therapy is also called biologic therapy. It might also be used after surgery for some earlier stage melanomas. This is to lower the risk that the cancer will come back. This type of therapy is done with medicines that help your body’s immune defense attack the cancer cells.
Targeted therapy for melanoma
The goal of targeted therapy is to shrink advanced melanoma tumors. This type of therapy is done with medicines. The medicines target specific parts of melanoma cells. For example, medicines called BRAF inhibitors target cells with a change in the BRAF gene. This gene is found in about half of all melanomas.
Prognosis for your melanoma
When found early and treated properly, melanoma is highly curable. Here are the survival rates by stage according to the American Cancer Society.
June 13, 2017