Treatment for Melanoma
Treatment for melanoma depends on various factors, including:
- The site of the original lesion
- The stage of the cancer
- The patient's age and general health
Treatment options include:
- Surgery to remove the tumor or tumors
- Radiation therapy
- Symptom relief (palliative therapy)
Surgery is the primary treatment for all stages of melanoma. Some or all of the melanoma is often removed during the first biopsy. If cancerous tissue still remains after such a biopsy, a surgeon will cut away additional tissue from the surrounding area to remove any stray cancer cells.
Surgical management of melanoma that develops in rare sites, such as the vagina, cervix and ovaries, is becoming less aggressive. Studies have shown that wide local removal is equal to radical surgery in many of these cases. Melanoma of the urethra, bladder and ureter usually requires extensive surgery, however.
Mohs micrographic surgery is a technique used to remove very thin layers of skin, one at a time. Each layer is examined immediately under a microscope. When the layers are shown to be cancer-free, the surgery is complete.
The amount of tissue removed depends on the size, depth, and degree of invasion:
Review Date: 07/04/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.