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What is Involved in Melanoma Therapy?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Approaches to melanoma therapy can vary, depending on the stage that the melanoma has reached at the time of diagnosis. Individual doctors may also have specific recommendations, based on their experiences with melanoma patients, causing treatment to vary even further. Patients who have been diagnosed with melanoma should consider seeking a second opinion to get an idea of the treatment options available, and they should be sure to discuss treatment in full with a physician so that they understand everything involved.

Melanoma is a cancer of the skin which appears in the form of a patch of darkened, rough skin. If it is caught in the early stages, it can be very manageable, although there is a risk of recurrence. If allowed to spread, the cancer can metastasize to other organs, and the prognosis can become very grim. For this reason, people should always seek medical attention when they notice skin changes, as it is better to be safe than sorry, and melanoma therapy will be more effective if it happens early.

The first step in melanoma therapy is surgery, which occurs in all cases. The surgery will be used to remove the cancerous area of skin so that the cancer cannot spread, and so that the melanoma can be examined to determine the stage of the cancer. If it is possible that the cancer has progressed and spread, the closest lymph nodes to the cancer might be removed in order to prevent metastasis. If the cancer was caught at an early stage, this may be the only treatment necessary, as long as the patient agrees to come in for follow-ups to monitor his or her skin for sign of recurrences.

If the cancer has gotten to a more serious stage, adjuvant treatment may be involved in melanoma therapy. This can include chemotherapy, targeted radiation, and the use of drugs which are designed to boost immune system function to help the body fight the cancer. This therapy can be involved, grueling, and expensive for melanoma patients, but it is the only way to effectively fight the cancer. Working with the patient, an oncologist will develop the most appropriate therapeutic treatment for the patient's individual situation.

Rather than going through melanoma therapy, patients should definitely try to avoid melanoma in the first place. Prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight is a leading risk factor for this type of skin cancer. By covering up with loose, dark garments and wearing sunhats, sunglasses, and sunscreen in sunny weather, people can dramatically reduce their risk of developing melanoma. In addition, such measures will keep skin supply, healthy, and smooth into old age, a benefit for people who are concerned about how their skin will look when they are old.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
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