Welcome to our treatments and information page
Individual treatment plans depend on the cancer’s stage.
So you should learn as much information as you can about your specific diagnosis and treatment.
You may want to ask your doctor/ specialist questions about the disease.
Depending on the particular stage of your melanoma diagnosis, there may be several treatment options available to you. Each case is unique – your doctor will want to review your full pathology report and your medical history with you when discussing treatment, to determine the best course of action. And, if you are newly diagnosed with melanoma, learning about treatment options is of the utmost importance.
Melanoma Treatment Options
These are examples of they types of treatment available for melanoma. Based on your personal history, pathology report, and stage at diagnosis, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:
Surgery is the mainstay of therapy for early stage melanoma and for the resection of an isolated metastatic melanoma site. There are several different types of surgeries that are regularly performed to treat melanoma.
Clinical trials are research studies to test promising new or experimental cancer treatments. There are hundreds of clinical trials happening at any given time, and most experts agree that for a late-stage diagnosis, clinical trials are the best treatment option.
Immunotherapy is a type of systemic therapy used in the treatment of melanoma at high risk for recurrence and metastases. The following immunotherapies are approved by the FDA for the treatment of melanoma: Imlygic (T-VEC), Yervoy + Opdivo, Opdivo (nivolumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab), Yervoy (ipilimumab), Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and Interferon alpha 2-b.
Targeted therapy is a type of therapy where drugs (or other substances) “target” the abnormal aspects of tumour cells without harming normal cells. Several targeted therapies have been approved for use in treating various cancers, and this approach is now being evaluated in melanoma. .
Chemotherapy is a type of systemic therapy intended to destroy melanoma cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy has shown limited success in the treatment of melanoma. Dacarbazine (DTIC) is FDA-approved for Stage IV (metastatic) melanoma.
Side Effects of Treatment
As with any cancer treatment, you or your loved one may experience side effects from the treatment regiment. With that in mind, it is important to remember that everyone reacts differently to treatment and experiences side effects in different ways. It is important that all side effects be reported to your treatment team AS SOON AS YOU BEGIN EXPERIENCING THEM.
The most common side effects of melanoma treatment include, but are not limited to:
- Vitiligo (loss of pigment)
- Skin rash
- Thyroid issues
- Joint pain
Information from the Melanoma Research foundation
Glossary of Melanoma Terms
Following is a list of terms commonly used by dermatologists and pathologists, and that you may see on your patient record or pathology report.
Cancer trials that are due to become active June-August 2016
Further information can be found by visiting
Pembrolizumab plus ipilimumab safe, effective for advanced melanoma
CHICAGO — Combined treatment with pembrolizumab and ipilimumab demonstrated robust antitumor activity and acceptable toxicity in patients with advanced melanoma, according to data from the KEYNOTE-029 trial presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
Long-Term Data Deepen Dabrafenib/Trametinib Benefit in Melanoma
Long term survival rates can be achieved for Braf mutation positive patients on combination targeted therapy
This link contains brief information about nivolumab and a collection of links to more information about the use of this drug, research results, and ongoing clinical trials.
Aim: Pembro has demonstrated strong antitumor activity in patients (pts) with advanced MEL at doses of 10 mg/kg every 2 weeks
Pembrolizumab with Dabrafenib and Trametinib Manageable in BRAF-Mutant Melanoma
The phase I KEYNOTE-022 study, which tested pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in combination with dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) for BRAF-mutant advanced melanoma, has shown a manageable toxicity profile in patients with BRAF V600-mutant melanoma.
New cancer drug to be given to patients free for 30 days
We thought we would share a bit of information about this drug.
Nivolumab is the generic name for the trade drug name Opdivo®. In some cases, health care professionals may use the generic name nivolumab when referring to the trade drug name Opdivo®.
Drug type: Nivolumab is a targeted therapy. It is a human programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) blocking antibody. (For more detail, see “How this drug works,” below.)
What this drug is used for:
- For the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma and disease progression in combination with ipilimumab and, if BRAF V600 mutation positive, a BRAF inhibitor.
- For the treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy.
- Treatment of advanced renal cell cancer in patients who have received prior anti-angiogenic therapy.
- Treatment of patients with classical Hodgkins lymphoma (cHL) that has relapsed or progressed after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and post-transplantation brentuximab vedotin.
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
Final Results of the Sunbelt Melanoma Trial:
A Multi-Institutional Prospective Randomized Phase III Study Evaluating the Role of Adjuvant High-Dose Interferon Alfa-2b and Completion Lymph Node Dissection for Patients Staged by Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Purpose The Sunbelt Melanoma Trial is a prospective randomized trial evaluating the role of high-dose interferon alfa-2b therapy (HDI) or completion lymph node dissection (CLND) for patients with melanoma staged by sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy.
Some further information on interferon:
Why do some Irish oncologists prescribe it and some don’t?
The answer is interferon remains a controversial subject there is an ongoing debate about its effectiveness and its side effects and if one out weighs the other
Why do they still prescribe interferon?
Interferon is an adjuvant treatment this means it is used after surgery in the hope that it will stop spread of cancer usually to organs it is normally prescribed to stage 3 patients who are deemed at highest risk of reoccurrence.
Patients need to research its effects and effectiveness before participation as with any treatment
What’s the alternative?
The alternative up until now has usually been watch and wait where a patient is monitored for at least 5 years this will include clinical appointments and a yearly scan, but no drug therapy.
Nowadays there are some trials available for those who are not comfortable with the watch and wait system or interferon therapy if it’s offered.
They include the keynote 054 trial which is Adjuvant Pembro V Placebo (placebo is no drug but closer monitoring or perhaps a placebo drug)
Unfortunately this is not available in Ireland and will not be it was rejected as a trial option to Irish patients due to costs related to small number of expected participants.
It is however available in England and Irish patients can be referred there to participate of course there are costs associated with this including travel every 3 months and there may be costs accrued if you were to be admitted to hospital by NHS, which will not be met by the Treatment Purchase Fund, as it would be the result of a trial which is an unproven treatment.
However some private health insurance may cover these costs but you should always have this confirmed before taking part.
What should I do as a patient?
Nobody but the patient can decide what is the right choice for their particular situation.
A patient needs to do their research weight up the pros and cons of each option and make a decision based on their findings that they are comfortable with.