Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
 
Mom Hugging Daughter

Approved Treatments

Treatment Options

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

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.

Neoadjuvant

Therapy

Neoadjuvant therapy is treatment given before surgery that is intended to completely remove melanoma, while adjuvant therapy is given after surgery. Neoadjuvant therapy was initially studied in breast cancer in order to shrink the tumor and allow women the options of a smaller surgery, a lumpectomy or a partial mastectomy, in addition to the option of a complete mastectomy.
 

Both adjuvant and neoadjuvant treatment have the goal of decreasing the risk of the melanoma returning (recurrence) by attacking microscopic disease that cannot be seen by the eye, either in the area of the surgery or anywhere in the body.

Immunotherapy


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.
 

Ipilimumab (Yervoy), an anti-CTLA-4 antibody

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), an anti-PD-1 antibody

Nivolumab (Opdivo), an anti-PD-1 antibody

T-VEC (Imlygic), an oncolytic virus therapy

Nivolumab (Opdivo) + Ipilimumab (Yervoy) in combination

Aldesleukin (Proleukin), interleukin-2 (IL-2)
 

Targeted 
Therapy

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.

  • Vemurafenib (Zelboraf), a BRAF inhibitor

  • Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), a BRAF inhibitor

  • Trametinib (Mekinist), a MEK inhibitor

  • Dabrafenib (Tafinlar) + Trametinib (Mekinist) in combination

  • Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) + Cobimetinib (Cotellic) in combination

  • Encorafenib (Braftovi) + Binimetinib (Mektovi) in combination


Genomics and Biomarkers: What is Personalized Medicine?
 

As research has become more advanced, scientists have discovered that not all types of melanoma are identical. Each cancer is as unique as the patient in which it is found. According to the NCI, personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, is a “form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. In cancer, personalized medicine uses specific information about a person’s tumor to help diagnose, plan treatment, find out how well treatment is working, or make a prognosis”.

Adjuvant 
Therapy

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.

  • Vemurafenib (Zelboraf), a BRAF inhibitor

  • Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), a BRAF inhibitor

  • Trametinib (Mekinist), a MEK inhibitor

  • Dabrafenib (Tafinlar) + Trametinib (Mekinist) in combination

  • Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) + Cobimetinib (Cotellic) in combination

  • Encorafenib (Braftovi) + Binimetinib (Mektovi) in combination
     

Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high energy rays, like x-rays, to kill cancer cells. Although radiation is not an overly common melanoma treatment option, it is most often used as a symptom-relieving therapy in patients whose melanoma has spread to the brain or bones. In these situations, the radiation would not be expected to cure the melanoma, but it may help to make the patient more comfortable. Radiation may also be given to high risk Stage III patients after surgery, as a form of adjuvant, or preventative, treatment to reduce the risk of the melanoma spreading or returning.
 

Radiation treatments only last a few minutes and are much like getting an x-ray, only the radiation is much stronger. Because of the strong energy that is used, radiation therapy requires careful planning to reduce the impact on surrounding, healthy tissues. Be sure to talk to your melanoma treatment team, especially your radiation oncologist, about the pros and cons of radiation for the treatment of melanoma.

Clinical Trials

Adjuvant 
Therapy

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.

  • Vemurafenib (Zelboraf), a BRAF inhibitor

  • Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), a BRAF inhibitor

  • Trametinib (Mekinist), a MEK inhibitor

  • Dabrafenib (Tafinlar) + Trametinib (Mekinist) in combination

  • Encorafenib (Braftovi) + Binimetinib (Mektovi) in combination
     

Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high energy rays, like x-rays, to kill cancer cells. Although radiation is not an overly common melanoma treatment option, it is most often used as a symptom-relieving therapy in patients whose melanoma has spread to the brain or bones. In these situations, the radiation would not be expected to cure the melanoma, but it may help to make the patient more comfortable. Radiation may also be given to high risk Stage III patients after surgery, as a form of adjuvant, or preventative, treatment to reduce the risk of the melanoma spreading or returning.
 

Radiation treatments only last a few minutes and are much like getting an x-ray, only the radiation is much stronger. Because of the strong energy that is used, radiation therapy requires careful planning to reduce the impact on surrounding, healthy tissues. Be sure to talk to your melanoma treatment team, especially your radiation oncologist, about the pros and cons of radiation for the treatment of melanoma.

Clinical Trials

All treatments that are available today have been discovered through clinical trials. Clinical trials are often viewed as the best treatment option for Stage II, III and IV melanoma patients, so it is important to learn about trials so you make an informed treatment decision. All treatment options, including clinical trials, should be thoroughly discussed with your melanoma team. 

Learn more about clinical trails here.

map

Learn More About Treatments Near You