IN THIS ARTICLE
The treatment of melanoma is dependent on the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Staging is a technique often used to categorize various kinds of cancer according to the extent of the cancer in the hope that this will help the doctor to predict the behavior of the disease and select the best treatment. Stage 1 melanomas (thin lesions) that have not metastasized have an excellent prognosis and generally only require an surgical removal of the tumor with an appropriate margin of normal tissue. Thicker tumors or tumors that appear to have spread to other parts of the body have a much poorer prognosis. For melanomas of intermediate thickness with no evidence of metastatic spread, technique called sentinel lymph node biopsy has been developed which is useful in predicting the progression of the disease. This is performed by injecting a radioactive tracer and/or a dye at the site of the tumor and tracing it to the local lymph nodes that drain the site of the cancer. Once identified, these lymph nodes are removed and examined by the pathologist to determine if they have been invaded by the melanoma. Lack of invasion is a good sign.
Once a melanoma has metastasized to draining regional lymph nodes or to a more distant site, treatment options become more complicated and good outcomes become less common. Such treatments include regional lymph node dissection, interferon injections, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, regional limb profusion (chemotherapy limited to an extremity), and systemic chemotherapy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/2/2015
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Must Read Articles Related to Melanoma
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Melanoma:
Melanoma - Patient Experience
Were you diagnosed with Melanoma? Please describe your experience.
Melanoma - Treatment
How was your melanoma treated?
Skin Protection Resources
- Early Care for Your Premature Baby
- What to Eat When You Have Cancer
- When to Take More Pain Medication