Surgical removal (excision) of the affected skin is the most effective
melanoma. Excision involves removing the entire
melanoma along with a border (margin) of normal-appearing skin. More
treatment may be needed based on the
stage of the melanoma.
Melanoma may be cured if caught
and treated in its early stages when it affects only the skin. If melanoma is
confined to the skin (primary melanoma), you will have surgery to remove the
affected skin. If the melanoma is thin and has not invaded surrounding tissues,
excision may cure the melanoma. In more advanced stages, melanoma may spread,
or metastasize, to other organs and bones, requiring additional treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.
Treatments used for melanoma include:
- Surgery. Your doctor may use one of these surgeries:
- Local excision. This surgery takes out the melanoma and a little of the tissue around it.
- Wide local excision. This surgery removes more of the tissue around the melanoma. Lymph nodes may also be removed during this surgery.
- Lymph node dissection (lymphadenectomy). This is
surgery to remove lymph nodes to see if they have cancer cells. Or this may be done to remove lymph nodes that are cancerous.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy. This surgery removes the first lymph node that the cancer may have spread to from the tumor. If this lymph node does not have any cancer cells, then you may not need to have more lymph nodes removed.
- Radiation therapy.
Side effects of treatment
The side effects of treatment for melanoma will depend on the type of treatment you have and your age and overall health. The side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation may be mild enough that you can do things at home to manage them. See the Home Treatment section of this topic for more information.
Some of the treatment side effects can be avoided. For example, your doctor may prescribe medicines to control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all the side effects that you have.
Regular follow-up appointments are
important after you have been diagnosed with melanoma.
Your doctor will set up a regular schedule of checkups that will happen less often as time goes on.
Learn to do a
skin self-exam and to check for swelling in your lymph nodes, and report any
changes to your doctor. It's a good idea to get in
the habit of doing this skin and lymph-node check at the same time every
Treatment if the condition gets worse
tender lymph nodes may be a sign that the melanoma has spread (metastatic melanoma). Any enlarged
regional lymph nodes should be removed and checked for melanoma.