Melanocytes are skin cells that produce melanin, which is a brown pigment that provides the skin its brown or tan color. Melanin protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. You must have noticed that continuous exposure of the skin to the sun rays darkens the skin, causing it to tan. This is when melanocytes make more pigment, thereby protecting the skin from the harmful sun rays. Known as malignant melanoma and cutaneous melanoma, melanoma is a cancer type that begins in the melanocytes. Melanoma tumors are black or brown. While most melanoma cells can produce melanin, there are some that do not, and in that case, melanoma appears pink or even white.
Once melanoma is diagnosed and staged, the team of cancer experts would discuss the treatment options with the patient. It is important to know about every treatment available and carefully make the right choice. Look at each of the benefits that the treatment options possess and weigh its possible side effects before going ahead with the treatments. Melanoma is curable if it is diagnosed at an early stage before it is spread to other body parts where it is difficult to treat it.
Depending on the cancer stage and other factors, here are the various treatments options for melanoma.
The complete melanoma is cut out along with some of the tissue around the melanoma. Some may also go for skin grafting for covering the wound caused by the surgery.
This treatment option uses medications to boost an individual’s immune system, thereby helping their body to fight the cancer.
Chemotherapy uses medications to stop or reduce the growth of cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy involves inhibitors or medicines that hinder the growth of cancer cells. This is done by the therapy that blocks signals in the cell. Inhibitors are used only when the gene test results show that a person has the BRAF mutation or gene change.
- Radiation therapy
This treatment involves ionizing radiation that helps in controlling or killing malignant cells.
Mostly, early-stage melanoma can be treated with surgery but the advanced stage of cancer might require other treatments as well. Moreover, some melanoma skin cancers require multiple treatments.
Recurrent or metastatic melanoma
Melanoma may spread to other parts of the body and develop tumors. When tumors are formed in different body parts, one can treat it with surgery.
Metastatic melanoma requires other treatments as well such as, immunotherapy, interferon, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Melanoma that reoccurs even after a surgery or other treatment is known as recurrent melanoma.
Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion
Melanoma on the leg or arm can be treated using chemotherapy medications. The doctor would add the medications to a warm solution and inject the same into the bloodstream of the particular leg or arm. By injecting the solution, the blood flow to that limb is halted for a short time period allowing the medicine to go right to the tumor.
The doctors would also recommend you to go for clinical trials if these are available in your area. Clinical trials may provide treatment options for those with metastatic cancer and they also study various treatments in combination such as vaccines and chemotherapy.