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Treatments for Melanoma

Treatments for Melanoma:

The first step in the treatment of melanoma is prevention. The best way to prevent melanoma is to avoid sunburn and sun exposure in both children and adults. Just getting one bad blistering sunburn during childhood raises the risk of developing melanoma.

Minimizing long-term damage to the skin and its cells and the development of melanoma includes avoiding sun exposure during the period of time when the sun's rays are strongest this is generally between 9 am and 3 or 4 pm. Wearing protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves and long pants is also important. During sun exposure, it is key to consistently use and reapply sunscreen with a high SPF. Do not use tanning beds.

Once melanoma has developed, treatment is tailored around a variety of factors, including the individual case, the type of melanoma and how much the melanoma has grown and spread.

Treatment involves complete surgical removal of the cancerous tumor by removing all of the cancerous mole or area of skin. Local lymph nodes are tested for the presence of cancer cells, indicating that the melanoma has spread. Additional surgery, chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy may be needed if melanoma has spread beyond the skin to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Treatment List for Melanoma

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Melanoma includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

  • Surgery
    • Surgical melanoma removal - the most common treatment; remove the tumor and nearby surrounding tissues.
    • Surgical lymph node removal - often nearby lymph nodes are also removed.
    • Skin graft - if a large area of skin was removed.
  • Chemotherapy
    • Limb perfusion - newer method of chemotherapy if the melanoma is on a leg or arm.
  • Radiation therapy - mostly used for melanoma that has spread to other body areas.
  • Biological therapy (immunotherapy)
  • The cancerous skin cells and a portion of the normal surrounding skin usually have to be surgically removed. A procedure called surgical lymph node biopsy may be necessary to check if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy (use of medications that stimulate the immune system, such as interferon) may be recommended in addition to surgery

Alternative Treatments for Melanoma

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Melanoma may include:

Melanoma: Is the Diagnosis Correct?

The first step in getting correct treatment is to get a correct diagnosis. Differential diagnosis list for Melanoma may include:

Hidden causes of Melanoma may be incorrectly diagnosed:

  • Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma. It is usually flat and irregular in shape and color, with varying shades of black and brown. It may occur at any age or body site, and is most common in Caucasians
  • Nodular melanoma usually starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red, although some are without color
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma usually occurs in the elderly. It is most common in sun-damaged skin on the face, neck, and arms. The abnormal skin areas are usually large, flat, and tan with intermixed areas of brown
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma is the least common form of melanoma. It usually occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is more common in African Americans
  • more causes...»

Melanoma: Marketplace Products, Discounts & Offers

Products, offers and promotion categories available for Melanoma:

Curable Types of Melanoma

Possibly curable types of Melanoma may include:

Melanoma: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.

Drugs and Medications used to treat Melanoma:

Note:You must always seek professional medical advice about any prescription drug, OTC drug, medication, treatment or change in treatment plans.

Some of the different medications used in the treatment of Melanoma include:

Unlabeled Drugs and Medications to treat Melanoma:

Unlabelled alternative drug treatments for Melanoma include:

Latest treatments for Melanoma:

The following are some of the latest treatments for Melanoma:

Hospital statistics for Melanoma:

These medical statistics relate to hospitals, hospitalization and Melanoma:

  • 0.073% (9,325) of hospital consultant episodes were for malignant melanoma of skin in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 98% of hospital consultant episodes for malignant melanoma of skin required hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 48% of hospital consultant episodes for malignant melanoma of skin were for men in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 52% of hospital consultant episodes for malignant melanoma of skin were for women in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • more hospital information...»

Hospitals & Medical Clinics: Melanoma

Research quality ratings and patient incidents/safety measures for hospitals and medical facilities in specialties related to Melanoma:

Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »

Choosing the Best Treatment Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Melanoma, on hospital and medical facility performance and surgical care quality:

Medical news summaries about treatments for Melanoma:

The following medical news items are relevant to treatment of Melanoma:

Discussion of treatments for Melanoma:

What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI (Excerpt)

If melanoma is found, the doctor needs to learn the extent, or stage , of the disease before planning treatment. The treatment plan takes into account the location and thickness of the tumor, how deeply the melanoma has invaded the skin, and whether melanoma cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Removal of nearby lymph nodes for examination under a microscope is sometimes necessary. (Such surgery may be considered part of the treatment because removing cancerous lymph nodes may help control the disease.) (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI)

What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI (Excerpt)

The standard treatment for melanoma is surgery; in some cases, doctors may also use chemotherapy , biological therapy , or radiation therapy . The doctors may decide to use one treatment method or a combination of methods. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI)

What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI (Excerpt)

Surgery to remove (excise) a melanoma is the standard treatment for this disease. It is necessary to remove not only the tumor but also some normal tissue around it in order to minimize the chance that any cancer will be left in the area.

The width and depth of surrounding skin that needs to be removed depends on the thickness of the melanoma and how deeply it has invaded the skin. In cases in which the melanoma is very thin, enough tissue is often removed during the biopsy, and no further surgery is necessary. If the melanoma was not completely removed during the biopsy, the doctor takes out the remaining tumor. In most cases, additional surgery is performed to remove normal-looking tissue around the tumor (called the margin) to make sure all melanoma cells are removed. This is necessary, even for thin melanomas. For thick melanomas, it may be necessary to do a wider excision to take out a larger margin of tissue.

If a large area of tissue is removed, a skin graft may be done at the same time. For this procedure, the doctor uses skin from another part of the body to replace the skin that was removed.

Lymph nodes near the tumor may be removed during surgery because cancer can spread through the lymphatic system. If the pathologist finds cancer cells in the lymph nodes, it may mean that the disease has spread to other parts of the body.

Surgery is generally not effective in controlling melanoma that is known to have spread to other parts of the body. In such cases, doctors may use other methods of treatment, such as chemotherapy, biological therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these methods. When therapy is given after surgery (primary therapy) to remove all cancerous tissue, the treatment is called adjuvant therapy . The goal of adjuvant therapy is to kill any undetected cancer cells that may remain in the body.


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is generally a systemic therapy , meaning that it can affect cancer cells throughout the body. In chemotherapy, one or more anticancer drugs are given by mouth or by injection into a blood vessel (intravenous ). Either way, the drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body.

Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles: a treatment period followed by a recovery period, then another treatment period, and so on. Usually a patient has chemotherapy as an outpatient (at the hospital, at the doctor's office, or at home). However, depending on which drugs are given and the patient's general health, a short hospital stay may be needed.

One method of giving chemotherapy drugs currently under investigation is called limb perfusion . It is being tested for use when melanoma occurs only on an arm or leg. In limb perfusion the flow of blood to and from the limb is stopped for a while with a tourniquet. Anticancer drugs are then put into the blood of the limb. The patient receives high doses of drugs directly into the area where the melanoma occurred. Since most of the anticancer drugs remain in one limb, limb perfusion is not truly systemic therapy.

Biological therapy

Biological therapy (also called immunotherapy) is a form of treatment that uses the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight cancer or to lessen side effects caused by some cancer treatments. Biological therapy is also a systemic therapy and involves the use of substances called biological response modifiers (BRMs). The body normally produces these substances in small amounts in response to infection and disease. Using modern laboratory techniques, scientists can produce BRMs in large amounts for use in cancer treatment. In some cases, biological therapy given after surgery can help prevent melanoma from recurring. For patients with metastatic melanoma or a high risk of recurrence, interferon-alfa and interleukin-2 (also called aldesleukin) may be recommended after surgery. Colony-stimulating factors and tumor vaccines are examples of other BRMs under study.

Radiation therapy

In some cases, radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is used to relieve some of the symptoms caused by melanoma. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is a local therapy ; it affects cells only in the treated area. Radiation therapy is most commonly used to help control melanoma that has spread to the brain, bones, and other parts of the body. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Melanoma: NCI)

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