An individual treatment plan is developed for each patient, using the most advanced treatment approaches available.
Treatment has several stages. Your dermatologic oncologist will discuss your treatment plan with you, and determine the best course of treatment for the stage of your cancer. You will probably need one of more of the following treatments:
- Surgery, including removal of the lesion
- Plastic and reconstructive surgery
- Adjuvant melanoma treatments
- Infusion/ Perfusion
- Radiation therapy
- Systemic treatment of advanced melanoma
Surgery: Removal of the Lesion (Excision)
The lesion itself is removed, as are adequate margins (additional tissue around melanoma lesions). This is done to prevent recurrence. Surgical options include:
- Wide local excision, which removes the tumor and up to two centimeters of surrounding tissue.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy, depending on the depth of the tumor. This type of biopsy measures the closest lymph node to the lesion. If the biopsy is positive, this tells your physicians that the cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes, changing the diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Elective lymph node dissection, removes both the tumor and the surrounding lymph nodes, if the sentinel lymph node biopsy is positive.
- Lymphoscintigraphy and sentinel lymph node dissection. These procedures help to identify whether the melanoma has spread to lymph nodes near the area of the tumor. The nearest lymph nodes to the original lesion are biopsied and examined for potential spread. Additional lymph nodes may be removed. Plastic and reconstructive surgery may also be performed at this time.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
When lesions are located in cosmetically-sensitive areas, a plastic surgeon can repair the scars created by the original excision surgery. Reconstructive surgery may also be needed if a large amount of tissue was removed along with the original lesion.
Learn more about infusion/ perfusion.
Radiation of the melanoma site is sometimes recommended to decrease the chances of the melanoma coming back. Learn more about Radiation Oncology.
Melanoma is notoriously chemo-resistant. A minority of patients respond and are cured with traditional single and multi-drug chemotherapy regimens.
This class of therapy involves drugs that manipulate your immune system. Medications include interferon, interleukin-2 and others.
This multi-drug approach combines traditional chemotherapy with immunotherapy.
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