Further treatment after surgery
If there’s a risk that the melanoma could come back (recur) after surgery, other treatments are sometimes used to reduce the risk. These are known as adjuvant (or additional) treatments. They may be used alone or together.
Some treatments use drugs that enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. This is known as systemic treatment.
The main systemic treatments for melanoma are:
- immunotherapy – drugs that use the body’s own immune system to recognise and fight some types of cancer cells
- targeted therapy – drugs that attack specific features within cancer cells known as molecular targets to stop the cancer growing and spreading.
Chemotherapy is another form of systemic drug treatment. It is used to treat many cancers, but it is rarely used for melanoma because immunotherapy and targeted therapy drugs usually work better.
In some cases, people with melanoma may be offered radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy). This is the use of targeted radiation to damage or kill cancer cells in a particular area of the body. Radiation therapy may be used if the melanoma has spread to the brain, but the increasing use of immunotherapy and targeted therapy is making this less likely.
Podcast: New Treatments – Immunotherapy & Targeted Therapy
Prof H Peter Soyer, Chair in Dermatology and Director, Dermatology Research Centre, The University of Queensland, Diamantina Institute, and Consultant, Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; A/Prof Matteo Carlino, Medical Oncologist, Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals, Melanoma Institute Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Anne Cust, Deputy Director, The Daffodil Centre, The University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW, Chair, National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council and faculty member, Melanoma Institute Australia; Prof Diona Damian, Dermatologist, Head of Department, Dermatology, The University of Sydney at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW, and Melanoma Institute Australia; A/Prof Paul Fishburn, General Practitioner – Skin Cancer, Norwest Skin Cancer Clinic, NSW and The University of Queensland; Claire Kelly, National Support Manager, and Emma Zurawel, Telehealth Nurse, Melanoma Patients Australia; Prof John Kelly, Consultant Dermatologist, Victorian Melanoma Service, The Alfred Melbourne and Monash University, VIC; Liz King, Manager, Skin Cancer Prevention Unit, Cancer Council NSW; Lee-Ann Lovegrove, Consumer; Lynda McKinley, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Angelica Miller, Melanoma Community Support Nurse, Melanoma Institute Australia incorporating melanomaWA, and Cancer Wellness Centre, WA; Dr Amelia Smit, Research Fellow, Melanoma and Skin Cancer, The Daffodil Centre, The University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW; Prof Andrew Spillane, Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney, The Mater and Royal North Shore Hospitals, NSW, and Melanoma Institute Australia; Kylie Tilley, Consumer; A/Prof Tim Wang, Radiation Oncologist, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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