Treatment Options

Melanoma Treatment Options3

Your treatment options depend on the stage of your melanoma and your overall health. During its early stages, melanoma can be successfully treated with surgery alone. Other types of cancer treatment are effective for more advanced stages of melanoma.

Surgery for Melanoma

Surgery plays an important role in the melanoma treatment landscape. For most patients, regardless of stage, surgery is the first treatment they will undergo. In fact, for patients with early-stage disease (stage 0 – 2), surgery may be the only treatment your melanoma requires! For patients with advanced melanoma, surgery is usually combined with systemic treatment options like targeted therapy or immune-based options. 

Learn more about Surgery for Melanoma

Immunotherapy for Advanced Melanoma

Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that stimulates the immune system to fight cancer anywhere in the body. This treatment may either be systemic, meaning that the drugs travel through the bloodstream, or local, injected into or near an accessible tumor.

Learn more about treatment options using immunotherapy for advanced melanoma.

Targeted Therapy for Advanced Melanoma

Targeted therapy is cancer treatment that focuses on specific molecules within cancer cells. The drugs work by blocking the function of abnormal molecules to slow the growth and spread of cancer, such as melanoma.

Targeted therapy is also systemic, and the drugs can be used with one another or in combination with other therapies.

Learn more about targeted therapy and how it works, as well as how combination therapy works. 

Cellular Therapy for Advanced Melanoma

Cellular Therapy, also called Cell-based therapy, is a type of medical treatment that involves the use of living cells to treat or prevent diseases. It is a rapidly evolving field in medicine that holds great promise for various conditions, including the treatment of melanoma and other cancers. 

Combination Therapy for Melanoma

Advanced melanoma often has gene mutations within the cancer cells, which cause the cancer to grow and spread. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy can effectively treat metastatic cancer, which has spread from its original location to other parts of the body.

Learn more about combination therapy for advanced melanoma.

Adjuvant Therapy for Melanoma

Adjuvant therapy is additional treatment given after the primary treatment for melanoma (usually surgery) to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

Learn more about current adjuvant therapy options.

Radiation Therapy for Melanoma

Cancer treatment that uses energy rays, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells is called radiation therapy. Physicians usually use radiation to treat melanoma in patients for whom surgery is a high risk or not possible.

Chemotherapy for Melanoma

Another systemic treatment option is chemotherapy, which uses drugs that stop the growth of cancer cells, either destroying them or stopping them from dividing. Patients can receive chemotherapy as a pill, by mouth, or as an injection into a blood vein. With the latest advances in targeted therapy and new immunotherapies, chemotherapy is used much less often to treat patients with advanced, or metastatic, melanoma. 

Melanoma Clinical Trials

When making treatment decisions, patients should consider all their treatment options, including clinical trials. Some people think that clinical trials are only for late-stage disease or should only be considered after undergoing treatments that are currently approved, but that is only a myth.

Learn more and decide in clinical trials are right for you.

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Melanoma Research

The Melanoma Research Alliance is the largest, non-profit funder of melanoma research worldwide. Since 2007, we have directly funded over $131 million in innovative grants to improve prevention, detection, and treatment of melanoma. We have also leveraged an additional $415 million in outside funds for research. Learn more about our funded research.

Last updated: August, 2021