You may be given chemotherapy directly into a limb (leg or arm) to treat clusters of melanomas that have come back in the same limb. These clusters of melanomas are called satellite lesions or in-transit lesions. This is known as regional treatment. This treatment is only given if the melanoma hasn’t spread anywhere else in the body.
There are two ways of giving chemotherapy into a limb: isolated limb perfusion (ILP) and isolated limb infusion. These treatments are only carried out in some specialist centres in the UK. You may have to travel to another hospital if your specialist advises you to have this treatment.
The drugs are given directly into the affected limb, which is isolated using a tight band (tourniquet). This prevents the treatment from going to other areas of your body. This means you’re unlikely to get the common side effects of having chemotherapy, such as feeling sick, being at more risk of getting an infection, and losing the hair from your head.
During ILP, the surgeon temporarily disconnects the blood flow between your affected limb and the rest of your body. The blood is circulated through an external pump and back into your limb. The chemotherapy drugs are given into the blood that circulates through your limb.