Skin Cancer Treament Types
Surgical removal (excision) of the affected skin is one of the most effective skin cancer treatments. Excision involves removing the entire melanoma along with a border (margin) of normal-appearing skin. More treatment may be needed based on the stage of the melanoma.
Melanoma may be cured if detected and treated in its early stages when it affects only the skin. If melanoma is confined to the skin (primary melanoma), surgery is the best option to the affected skin. If the melanoma is thin and has not invaded surrounding tissues, excision may cure the melanoma. In more advanced stages, melanoma may spread, or metastasize, to other organs and bones, requiring additional treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.
Treatments used for melanoma include:
- Local excision. This surgery takes out the melanoma and a little of the tissue around it.
- Wide local excision. This surgery removes more of the tissue around the melanoma. Lymph nodes may also be removed during this surgery.
- Lymph node dissection (lymphadenectomy). This is surgery to remove lymph nodes to see if they have cancer cells. Or this may be done to remove lymph nodes that are cancerous.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy. This surgery removes the first lymph node that the cancer may have spread to from the tumour. If this lymph node does not have any cancer cells, then lymph nodes may not need to be removed.
- Radiation therapy.
Swollen or tender lymph nodes may be a sign that the melanoma has spread (metastatic melanoma). Any enlarged regional lymph nodes should be removed and checked for melanoma. When melanoma has spread to only one tumour in another location, metastatic melanoma sometimes can be successfully treated with surgery. But metastatic melanoma usually responds poorly to most forms of treatment.
Melanoma can come back after treatment. This kind of recurrent melanoma, like metastatic melanoma, usually cannot be cured with treatment. Treatments that may help include:
- Surgery to remove any tumours.
- Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion.
- Radiation or immunotherapy to relieve symptoms (palliative therapy).
- Medicines injected directly into tumours.
- Lasers to destroy tumours.