Melanoma Skin Cancer

+ -Text Size

Treating Skin Cancer - Melanoma TOPICS

How is melanoma skin cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

Once melanoma has been diagnosed and staged, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. Depending on your situation, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:

  • A dermatologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the skin.
  • A surgical oncologist (or oncologic surgeon): a doctor who uses surgery to treat cancer.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your treatment team to help make the decision that best fits your needs. If there is anything you do not understand, ask to have it explained. (See the section “What should you ask your doctor about melanoma skin cancer?” for some questions to ask.)

Based on the stage of the cancer and other factors, your treatment options may include:

Early-stage melanomas can often be treated effectively with surgery alone, but more advanced cancers often require other treatments. Sometimes more than one type of treatment is used.

When time permits, getting a second opinion is often a good idea. It can give you more information and help you feel good about the treatment plan that you choose.

The next few sections describe the types of treatments used for melanoma of the skin. This is followed by a description of the most common treatment options based on the stage of the melanoma.


Last Medical Review: 10/29/2013
Last Revised: 09/05/2014