Get answers to your Melanoma questions.
Skin cancer - melanoma
The cancerous skin cells and some normal tissue that surrounds the cancer will need to be surgically removed. How much normal tissue is removed depends mostly on how deep the melanoma has grown.
If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, these lymph nodes may also need to be removed. Treatment with interferon after surgery may be useful for these patients.
For patients with melanoma that has spread beyond the skin and nearby lymph nodes to other organs, treatment is more difficult. At this point, melanoma is usually not curable. Treatment is usually directed at shrinking the tumor and improving symptoms:
Patients with high-risk melanomas may consider enrolling in clinical trials. These are research studies of new medications or other treatments.
For additional resources, see cancer support group.
Treatment success depends on many factors, including the patient's general health and whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.
If caught early, some melanomas can be cured. Deeper tumors are more likely to come back. If the skin cancer is deeper than 4 mm or the lymph nodes have cancer, there is a high risk of the cancer spreading to other tissues and organs. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, there is a greater chance that the melanoma will come back.
For patients with melanoma that has spread beyond the skin and nearby lymph nodes to other organs, treatment is more difficult. At this point, melanoma is usually not curable.
Complications of melanoma include the following:
Call your health care provider if you notice any symptoms of melanoma, particularly the following:
Clinical practice guidline for melanoma: NCCN Medical Practice Guidelines and Oncology:V.2.2009. Accessed July 15, 2009.
Goodson AG, Grossman D. Strategies for early melanoma detection: Approaches to the patient with nevi. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009;60:719-735.
Markovick SN, Erickson LA, Rao RD, Weenig RH, Prockaj BA, Bardia A, et al. Malignant melanoma in the 21st century, part 1: epidemiology, risk factors, screening, prevention, and diagnosis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82:364-380.
Markovick SN, Erickson LA, Rao RD, Weenig RH, Prockaj BA, Bardia A, et al. Malignant melanoma in the 21st century, part 2: staging, prognosis, and treatment. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82:490-513.
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