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The main treatment for melanoma is surgery|. Many melanomas are cured with surgery.
Local surgery| to remove a melanoma is the most common treatment. If the melanoma is at an early stage|, this is usually the only treatment that’s needed and the chances of being cured are high.
Sometimes, a melanoma can spread to nearby lymph nodes. If your specialist thinks your melanoma may have spread, they’ll organise further tests to check if the melanoma has affected nearby lymph nodes|. If this is the case, these lymph nodes can be removed during a surgical operation known as a lymph node dissection|.
Occasionally, other treatments are used after surgery if there’s a risk that the melanoma could come back. These are known as adjuvant treatments|. They include biological therapies|, which are substances that target the differences between cancer cells and normal cells (for this reason they are often called targeted therapies). There are different types of biological therapy, including monoclonal antibodies| and cancer growth inhibitors|. Adjuvant treatments are usually given as part of a clinical trial|.
If a melanoma comes back very close to the original one, this is known as a locally recurrent melanoma. Recurrent melanoma| is usually treated with surgery. But if there are a lot of recurrences, it may be more difficult to remove them all with surgery. In this situation, other treatments may be used, such as radiotherapy|, laser therapy| or limb perfusion or infusion with chemotherapy| (specialised techniques where chemotherapy is given directly into the affected limb).
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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