At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, your doctor can offer a variety of treatment options for melanoma. These include cutting-edge investigational therapies, available through clinical trials at SCCA and our parent institutions, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine.
The treatment that your doctor recommends will depend on the location of your cancer, its size, and its “stage.” The stage is an indication of how far your cancer has spread. Your overall health is another factor that your doctor will consider in making treatment recommendations.
Treatment options for melanomas include:
Surgery is usually the primary treatment for melanoma. If the tumor is surgically removed at an early stage, no additional treatment is usually needed. If your melanoma is more advanced, you may also need treatment with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Most people with melanoma have surgery to remove their cancer and do not need any further treatment. However, sometimes melanoma may come back and spread to other areas. When melanoma involves other organs, it may not be controlled by surgery alone. Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, which kills fast-growing cancer cells.
Melanoma is often treated with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system to attack cancer. Most forms of immunotherapy for melanoma are still experimental, however, a new drug called Yervoy (ipilimumab) recently won approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. It may help to control local symptoms that are related to tumor growth. It is usually used as an adjunct to other therapies