Diagnosing and Treating Melanoma

Once a melanoma has been diagnosed, a process called staging provides important information about the extent of the cancer and its anticipated response to treatment. Melanoma staging is also useful for estimating prognosis.

Melanoma Stages

Generally, lower stage cancers have a better outlook for cure or long-term survival, but other factors may also affect prognosis. The stages of melanoma range from stage 0, where the melanoma is confined to the top layers of the skin, to a stage 4 melanoma in which the cancer has spread beyond the original area of the skin and nearby lymph nodes to other organs, distant areas of the skin or distant lymph nodes.

Sentinel Node Biopsy

A sentinel node biopsy is when a doctor removes one or more lymph nodes near the melanoma site to determine if the skin cancer has spread. This diagnostic procedure is an important step in determining the stage of your cancer and figuring out the best treatment approach.

Treating Melanoma

Treatment of melanoma will depend on the stage of the cancer and other factors.

Treatment options might include:

  • Surgery. This is the main treatment option for most melanomas and may cure early-stage melanomas.
  • Immunotherapy. This is the use of medicines to stimulate a person’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy. These drugs target melanoma cells that have specific gene changes. They differ from standard chemotherapy drugs, which attack any quickly dividing cells.
  • Chemotherapy. These drugs kill cancer cells and are either injected into a vein or taken as a pill.
  • Radiation therapy. This type of therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is typically used only if surgery is not an option.

Early-stage melanomas can often be treated with surgery alone, but more complex, advanced cancers typically require other treatments or a combination of treatments.

Prevention and Early Detection of Melanoma Is Key

The skin cancer specialists at The Melanoma Center at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center have extensive experience diagnosing and treating melanoma, sarcoma, and other skin cancers.

To find melanoma early, when it is most treatable, it is important to examine your skin on a regular basis, and become familiar with moles and other skin conditions, in order to better identify changes. If you’re concerned about a suspicious mole, don’t delay – make an appointment today!

Call us at (844) 226-2376 to make an appointment.