Melanoma cancer begins in the melanocytes which are the pigment cells of the skin. This type of skin cancer occurs more commonly to those who have fair skin. It is often caused by excessive exposure to the sun or artificial UV rays in tanning beds or booths. However, melanoma can occur due to a weakened immune system as well. If diagnosed early, melanoma can be treated successfully. Although, if left untreated, melanoma is more likely to spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. The type of treatment used for melanoma cancer depends mainly on which stage the cancer is diagnosed in. These are some ways that melanoma skin cancer is commonly treated.
If diagnosed in the early stages, melanoma can be removed surgically. This is particularly true if the cancer has not grown deep into the bottom layers of the skin. Diagnostic tests will be done to determine how deep the skin cancer has grown and then the area of skin that is cancerous will be removed. Often the surgeon may also remove a small amount of skin around the cancerous skin cells to ensure that all of the cancer is removed successfully.
Certain medications may also be given after the melanoma skin cancer is surgically removed. These medications are known as immunotherapy drugs and they help prevent the melanoma from coming back. In some cases, if there is only a small amount of melanoma that has not gone deep into the skin, the immunotherapy drugs may be tried first to see if this will remove the cancer without the need for surgery.
Chemotherapy is another type of treatment that is used for melanoma. Chemotherapy treatments can shrink cancer cells until there is no longer a danger of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy is normally used when cancer is diagnosed in the later stages when surgery and immunotherapy alone will not get rid of it. However, immunotherapy drugs may be necessary for the patient to begin taking during or after chemotherapy to ensure the cancer does not return.
Radiation therapy is done by using powerful energy beams to kill cancer cells. This treatment is often performed for those who have already had surgery, been treated with chemotherapy, and are currently on immunotherapy drugs. Radiation therapy is also used when the melanoma has already spread to other areas of the body other than where it was first diagnosed in the skin.
The skin is the body's largest organ. It protects the bones, blood vessels, other organs, and everything inside the body from exposure to heat, cold, and germs. However, just like other parts of the body, the skin can become ill at times. Melanoma skin cancer is a serious illness that should be treated aggressively once diagnosed just like other forms of cancer.
For more information, contact a melanoma cancer treatment center.