- How is melanoma skin cancer treated?
- Types of surgery for melanoma skin cancer
- Chemotherapy for melanoma skin cancer
- Immunotherapy for melanoma skin cancer
- Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer
- Radiation therapy for melanoma skin cancer
- Clinical trials for melanoma skin cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies for melanoma skin cancer
Radiation therapy for melanoma skin cancer
Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays (such as x-rays) to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. External beam radiation focuses radiation from outside the body on the skin tumor. The treatment is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is stronger. The treatment itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, but the setup time – getting you into place for treatment – usually takes longer.
Radiation is not often used to treat the tumor that started on the skin. But it may be used on nearby lymph node areas after surgery to try to prevent the cancer from coming back. It may also be used to treat cancer that has come back, either in the skin or lymph nodes if the cancer cannot all be removed by surgery.
Radiation can also be used to treat distant spread or to relieve symptoms of cancer that has spread to the brain or the bones. Radiation used this way is not meant to cure the cancer, but it may help shrink it for a time to control some of the symptoms.
Side effects of radiation treatment depend on where it is aimed. These might include sunburn-like skin problems and hair loss where the radiation enters the body, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Often these go away after treatment.
Last Medical Review: 09/26/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013