What are the Pros and Cons of Chemotherapy for Melanoma?

Autumn Rivers

One of the available treatments for melanoma is chemotherapy. While this kind of method is known for killing cancer cells in many people, it is not always the best choice of treatment for everyone. One of the advantages of this kind of treatment is that it can be used for patients who have cancer in only one area of their body, as regional chemotherapy for melanoma is available. Chemotherapy in general is one of the few treatments that may work for the late stages of this disease. On the other hand, it is not usually a good idea to use it for the early stages of the disease, as it often features uncomfortable side effects.

An IV bag of chemotherapy medication.
An IV bag of chemotherapy medication.

In some cases, the cancer is only in one small area of the body, in which case regional chemotherapy for melanoma is available. This is called isolated limb perfusion, in which case a high dose of drugs is injected only in the affected area. Normally the drugs have to go throughout the entire body, often destroying healthy cells as well, but isolated limb perfusion can prevent this issue. Of course, this kind of chemotherapy is only limited to a small percentage of people, since not everyone's cancer stays in one small spot.

For late-stage melanoma patients, chemotherapy may be a treatment option.
For late-stage melanoma patients, chemotherapy may be a treatment option.

The more advanced stages of this condition usually require chemotherapy to be injected into the entire body in order to destroy several cancer cells. This class of chemotherapy for melanoma is usually ideal for stage IV cancer. On the other hand, this treatment is not usually good for early stages of cancer since it tends to destroy any dividing cells, whether healthy or cancerous. Therefore, someone with more healthy cells than cancerous ones will not benefit as much from this method.

Chemotherapy is often administered at infusion centers, where trained professionals can watch for adverse reactions.
Chemotherapy is often administered at infusion centers, where trained professionals can watch for adverse reactions.

Additionally, there are various side effects that might make using chemotherapy for melanoma an unappealing decision. Fatigue, nausea, and vomiting are all symptoms that affect the body, making it difficult to perform normal daily activities. Hair loss, blood clotting issues, anemia, bloating, and infections are also all commonly seen in those who undergo chemotherapy for cancer. For this reason, it is important to weigh the advantages of using chemotherapy for melanoma against the side effects. This type of treatment is more likely to be appealing when it is the only one available, such as in the case of stage IV melanoma, than for earlier stages that allow for other treatments.

As chemotherapy progresses, many patients experience significant hair loss, and some develop painful sores inside the mouth.
As chemotherapy progresses, many patients experience significant hair loss, and some develop painful sores inside the mouth.
Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy for melanoma have a lowered immune system and must limit their exposure to possible infections.
Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy for melanoma have a lowered immune system and must limit their exposure to possible infections.

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