Several options are available for treating melanoma, including surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy. There are side effects with each type of treatment, which your doctor will review with you. You may find it helpful to write down questions before your appointment or record what the doctor says.
Melanoma can be cured if it is diagnosed and treated when the tumor is thin and has not deeply invaded the skin. However, if a melanoma is not removed at its early stages, cancer cells may grow downward from the skin surface and invade healthy tissue. When a melanoma becomes thick and deep, the disease often spreads to other parts of the body and is difficult to control.
Melanoma treatment will depend on:
- The extent of the disease
- The patient's age and general health
- Other factors.
The doctor can describe your treatment choices and discuss the expected results with each. Together, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan that fits your needs. Choosing the most appropriate melanoma treatment is a decision that ideally involves the patient, the family, and the healthcare team.
Before you start treatment, you might want a second opinion about the diagnosis and treatment plan. Many insurance companies cover a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it. However, it may take some time and effort to gather medical records and arrange to see another doctor.
Usually, it is not a problem to take several weeks to get a second opinion, and in most cases, the delay will not make your treatment less effective. However, you should discuss this delay with your doctor because some people with melanoma may need treatment right away.