When melanoma has spread to only one tumor in another location, metastatic melanoma sometimes can be successfully treated with surgery. But metastatic melanoma usually responds poorly to most forms of treatment.
When successful treatment is not possible, the goal of treatment for metastatic melanoma is
to control symptoms, reduce complications, and increase comfort (palliative care).
Your doctor may recommend that you join a clinical trial if one is available in your area. Clinical trials study other treatments, such as combinations of chemotherapy, vaccines, and immunotherapies. They are also studying targeted therapy with agents such as PLX4032 and ipilimumab.
Melanoma can come
back after treatment. This called recurrent melanoma. This kind of melanoma, like metastatic melanoma, usually cannot be cured with treatment. But your medical team will keep you comfortable and help you live as long as possible. Treatments that may help include:
- Surgery to remove any tumors.
- Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion. If the melanoma is on your arm or leg, chemotherapy medicine may be added to a warm solution and injected into the bloodstream of that limb. The flow of blood to and from that limb is stopped for a short time so the medicine can go right to the tumor.
- Radiation or immunotherapy to relieve symptoms (palliative therapy).
- Medicines injected directly into tumors.
- Lasers to destroy tumors.
Palliative care may be an important part of your treatment plan.
What To Think About
When you first find out that you have cancer, you may feel scared or angry. Or you may feel very calm. It is normal to have a wide range of feelings and for those feelings to change quickly.
Some people find that it helps to talk about their feelings with their family and friends.
If your emotional reaction to cancer
interferes with your ability to make decisions about your health, it is
important to talk with your doctor. Your cancer treatment center may offer
psychological or financial services. You may also contact your local chapter of
the American Cancer Society to help you find a support group.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: to cure the cancer and to make your quality of life as good as possible. Your quality of life may be improved by having palliative care to manage your symptoms.
For some people with advanced-stage cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for hospice care.
It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment aimed at prolonging your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care. For more information, see the topics:
- Palliative Care.
- Hospice Care.
- Care at the End of Life.
For more information about specific treatments, see the following topics: