How treatment is planned

A group of health professionals with expert knowledge in recurrent melanoma will manage your treatment. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).

Your specialist will arrange some tests to find out more about your cancer.

The MDT will meet to discuss the results of the tests and to plan your treatment. They will look at a number of things, including:

  • the type and size of the cancer, and whether it has spread
  • your general health
  • national treatment guidelines for recurrent melanoma.

You may be given a choice of treatment options, which your specialist will discuss with you. If you do not understand what you have been told, let the staff know so they can explain again.

You will need to give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment.

You may find it helpful to take a friend or relative to your appointments to help you remember the discussion. You may also find it useful to have a list of questions ready to make sure you get the information you need.

Planning your treatment

The multidisciplinary team (MDT) who planned your the surgery (wide local excision) for your original melanoma will also be involved in planning treatment of any recurrence. The MDT may include:

  • dermatologists (doctors who specialise in skin conditions)
  • skin cancer nurse specialists
  • plastic surgeons
  • oncologists (doctors who specialise in treating cancer).

They will meet to discuss the treatment plan they feel is best for you.

The MDT will take a number of factors into account when advising you about treatment. They will consider your general health, the size of the recurrence and whether it has begun to spread.

If two treatments are equally effective, your doctors may offer you a choice. Sometimes people find it hard to make a decision. If you are asked to choose between treatments, make sure you have enough information about the different options, what is involved and the possible side effects. This will help you decide on the right treatment for you.

Giving consent

Before you have any treatment, your doctor will explain its aims. They will ask you to sign a form saying that you give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment.

No medical treatment can be given without your consent.

Before you are asked to sign the form, you should be given full information about:

  • the type and extent of the treatment
  • its advantages and disadvantages
  • any significant risks or side effects
  • any other treatments that may be available.

If you don’t understand what you’ve been told, let the staff know straight away, so they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it’s not unusual to need repeated explanations.

It’s a good idea to have a relative or friend with you when the treatment is explained, to help you remember the discussion.

You may also find it useful to write a list of questions before your appointment.

People sometimes feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it’s important for you to know how the treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for your questions.

You can always ask for more time if you feel that you can’t make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you.

You are also free to choose not to have the treatment. The staff can explain what may happen if you don’t have it. It’s essential to tell a doctor or the nurse in charge, so they can record your decision in your medical notes. You don’t have to give a reason for not wanting treatment, but it can help to let the staff know your concerns so they can give you the best advice.

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

Getting a second opinion

There are many reasons for wanting a second opinion about your treatment. Speak to your specialist or GP.

Making a complaint

Talking to your healthcare team can make it easier to cope. If you find talking difficult, there are things you can do.