Melanoma treatment is mainly determined by the stage of the cancer at the time of the diagnosis. Staging is primarily based on the thickness of the tumor, ulceration of the skin, lymph node involvement and pathology. These are just a few of the factors considered when determining a treatment plan.
A diagnosis of melanoma may cause a range of emotions, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are a variety of treatment options available. The goals of treatment for melanoma are to remove all of the cancer, reduce the chance of recurrence, preserve healthy skin tissue and minimize scarring after surgery.
In the earlier stages of melanoma, surgery is used to remove the primary tumor, where the cancer started, and determine if all the cancer cells have been removed. In more advanced cases, treatment may also include chemotherapy, radiation, and biological therapy or immunotherapy.
In late-stage melanoma, the treatment often focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life and reducing pain. This is referred to as palliative care, and is not designed to cure the cancer, but rather to relieve suffering.
If you’re diagnosed with melanoma, your healthcare provider will discuss treatment options with you. Together you can work to develop the best treatment or combination of treatments for your condition.