Melanoma Skin Cancer Overview

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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.

About treatment

Once melanoma has been found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss treatment options with you. Depending on your own case, 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: a doctor who uses surgery to treat cancer.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation.

Many other experts may be involved in your care as well, such as nurses, dietitians, social workers, and others.

It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options and their side effects with your treatment team to help decide what’s best for you. If there’s anything that’s not clear, ask to have it explained. (See the section “What are some questions I can ask my 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 with surgery alone, but more advanced cancers often need other treatments. Sometimes more than one type of treatment is used.

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

Last Medical Review: 02/19/2014
Last Revised: 09/16/2014