Further treatments for melanoma
If there’s a risk that the melanoma could come back (recur) after surgery, other treatments are sometimes used to reduce that risk. These are known as adjuvant (or additional) treatment. 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.
Podcast: Immunotherapy and Targeted Therapy
A/Prof Robyn Saw, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Prof Bryan Burmeister, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare Fraser Coast and Hervey Bay Hospital, QLD; Tamara Dawson, Consumer, Melanoma & Skin Cancer Advocacy Network; Prof Georgina Long, Co-Medical Director, Melanoma Institute Australia, and Chair, Melanoma Medical Oncology and Translational Research, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Alexander Menzies, Medical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney, Royal North Shore and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Chair, Cancer Council’s National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia; Prof H Peter Soyer, Chair in Dermatology and Director, Dermatology Research Centre, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, and Director, Dermatology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Julie Teraci, Clinical Nurse Consultant and Coordinator, WA Kirkbride Melanoma Advisory Service, WA.
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