MelanomaMelanoma Treatment

Let's Talk About Melanoma Treatment

Melanoma is almost always curable when you catch—and tackle—it early. Here's what a road to recovery typically looks like.

    Our Pro PanelMelanoma Treatment

    We went to some of the nation's top melanoma experts to bring you the most scientific and up-to-date information possible.

    Philip Friedlander, M.D.

    Philip Friedlander, M.D.Assistant Professor of Hematology and Oncology

    Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    New York, NY
    Sancy Leachman, M.D.

    Sancy Leachman, M.D.Chair of the Department of Dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University and Director of Melanoma Research Program at Knight Cancer Institute

    Portland, OR
    Steven Q. Wang, M.D.

    Steven Q. Wang, M.D.Mohs Surgeon and Director of Dermatological Surgery and Dermatology

    Memorial Sloan Kettering
    Basking Ridge, NJ

    Frequently Asked QuestionsMelanoma Treatment

    What’s more effective: immunotherapy or targeted therapy?

    Doctors aren’t so sure as studies haven’t determined which drug is a better starting point. Typically, if your tumor tests positive for a gene mutation, your doctor will start with targeted therapy. If that isn’t working well, they may move on to immunotherapy. If there is no gene mutation present, then the first course of action for metastatic and high-risk melanoma is immunotherapy.

    What type of doctors will I see during my treatment?

    Because doctors now treat melanoma using an integrative approach (combining treatments such as surgery and immunotherapy or targeted drugs), you’ll have a team of doctors. These may include a dermatopathologist (to pinpoint your specific type of melanoma), a surgical oncologist (to surgically remove the tumors), a radiation oncologist (for radiation, if necessary), and a medical oncologist (for immunotherapy, targeted drugs, and chemotherapy, if warranted).

    Will my melanoma recur after treatment?

    If treatment has eliminated your cancer, you’ll likely need to follow-up with a dermatologist every 3 to 12 months, depending on your specific case. Once you’ve had melanoma, the risk of developing it again is higher than those who never had one, especially if it was thick, looked like a bleeding ulcer, and/or spread to lymph nodes. Sometimes cancer cells survive the treatment and continue to grow at the original site, or even in a new area. Melanoma most commonly reappears within five years, but studies show it can make a comeback even a decade or two later.

    Is Stage IV melanoma curable?

    Once melanoma has spread to other areas of the body, it’s very difficult to cure. However, some patients have no detectable cancer even years after treatment. The current 5-year survival rate for Stage IV melanoma is around 23 percent.

    Krista Bennett DeMaio

    Krista Bennett DeMaio


    Krista Bennett DeMaio is a health and beauty writer living in Huntington, NY with her husband and three daughters.