Treating Melanoma


The main factors affecting treatment options are: depth, presence of ulceration and lymph node involvement. Deeper melanomas are more likely to have spread. They are also more likely to recur, or come back after treatment.

Cancer treatment involves a team of healthcare professionals. Your treatment team may include:

  • A dermatologist
  • A surgeon
  • A radiation oncologist, a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer
  • A medical oncologist, a doctor who uses drug therapy to kill cancer cells that have spread from
    the primary melanoma

Second Opinion
A second opinion from another doctor about your diagnosis and suggested treatment can be a good idea. Getting a second opinion can reassure you that you are doing everything you can do to manage your disease. The second doctor may agree with the proposed treatment plan. He or she may suggest a different approach. In either case, you will have learned more. You will also be more confident that you know the treatment options. This helps you make the best decision. It may take a few weeks to see a second doctor. The possible delay generally does not affect the treatment outcome. You may want to ask your doctor whether your treatment needs to start immediately.

Treatment Plan
A treatment plan is a useful tool to help you understand your therapy and feel in control. A treatment plan includes information about the melanoma, the planned treatment and possible side effects. It may also include information about any physical and emotional problems and your treatment goals. Your treatment plan may also include general health measures, such as quitting smoking or limiting alcohol. A treatment plan helps anyone with melanoma. It is, however, even more important for anyone with advanced disease. A treatment plan helps you and your treatment team be clear about your goals and wishes. Ask your treatment team for a written treatment plan.

Treatment Side Effects
Every treatment has side effects, or unwanted physical or emotional symptoms. Several side effects may occur with a particular treatment. Everyone reacts differently. Some people experience fewer or milder side effects than other people. Understanding possible side effects helps you make decisions about treatment. You will also know what to expect with different treatments. Finally, you will be better able to manage side effects with the help of your treatment team.

Complimentary Therapies
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes vitamins, herbal preparations, nutritional supplements, and stress reduction. CAMs have not been studied as treatments in cancer. It is important to tell your treatment team about any CAMs you are taking. Some CAMs may interact with some cancer therapies. Complementary therapies that have been studied are acupuncture, which can provide pain relief in some conditions, and yoga, which can be effective for relaxation. These therapies may make you feel better. Your treatment team can advise you about which complementary therapies may help.

Find out more about treatments for melanoma

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy  treatment uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation  treatment that uses a high-energy beam to kill cancer cells
  • Immunotherapy  treatment that stimulates the immune system to fight disease
  • Targeted Therapy  treatment for people whose melanoma possesses specific genetic changes

Melanoma Drug Therapies

The past few years have been breakthrough melanoma drug therapies for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Learn about the different therapies available in Canada

Melanoma What You Need To Know

A leading national melanoma resource written with the help of specialists in oncology and health care.

Melanoma Support

The Melanoma Network of Canada has a number of free services for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.