Treatment for malignant melanoma depends on whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other locations in the body. Staging describes the degree of spread. Cancers that are limited to the skin can be treated surgically. More advanced malignant melanoma skin lesions are usually treated with a combination of surgery to remove the skin cancer, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Treatment options for malignant melanoma include:
- Surgery for malignant melanoma:
- To remove the cancer from the skin
- The amount of skin that needs to be removed is determined by cancer stage.
- Surrounding lymph nodes may also need to be removed.
- Chemotherapy for malignant melanoma:
- Dacarbazine (DTIC)
- Cisplatin (Platinol)
- Vinblastine (Velban)
- Carmustine (BiCNU)
- Tamoxifen (Nolvadex)
- Immunotherapy for malignant melanoma:
- Melanoma vaccine:
- Currently undergoing clinical trials
- Does not prevent melanoma, but may stimulate the body's immune system to destroy the cancer cells.
- Used for later stage melanoma that has spread
Melanoma Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after treatment for malignant melanoma.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for complications?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for skin cancer?
- Are my children at risk for this condition?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat malignant melanoma:
Continue to Melanoma Home Care
- Brown TJ, Nelson BR. Malignant melanoma: a clinical review. Cutis. 1999 May;63(5):275-8, 281-4. 
- Ruiz-Maldonado R, Orozco-Covarrubias ML. Malignant melanoma in children. A review. Arch Dermatol. 1997 Mar;133(3):363-71. 
- Schuchter LM. Review of the 2001 AJCC staging system for cutaneous malignant melanoma. Curr Oncol Rep. 2001 Jul;3(4):332-7.