Different ways to manage melanoma and its symptoms Health

Different ways to manage melanoma and its symptoms

Melanoma is one of the severe kinds of skin cancer, which develops in the cells responsible for melanin production. It can also develop in one’s eyes. However, its occurrence inside the body, such as in the throat or nose, is typically rare. There’s no clarity on the exact cause of melanoma, but excessive exposure to UV rays from tanning lamps, beds, or the sun heightens the risk of melanoma development. Let’s look at the advanced and early-stage melanoma treatment options.

Treatment options for melanoma
The treatment for melanoma will depend on the general health and the melanoma stage.

Wide local excision
In most cases, the excision biopsy to diagnose melanoma helps remove the melanoma. However, in some cases, the surgeon or the doctor might also do another procedure called the wide local excision. It involves removing more normal-looking skin along the margins of the affected area, lowering the risk of cancer relapse. 

The pathologist studies the affected tissue for cancer cells. It is known as a clear margin if the sample does not have cancer cells. But, if the margin is unclear, you might need further surgery. Most people recover following a wide local excision procedure, provided they keep the wound clean.

Lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy
In this surgical method, the doctor injects the tumor region with a radioactive tracer and a dye to assess which lymph nodes may be involved and whether the tumor has entered the lymph nodes. As part of the treatment, the surgeon will remove one or more lymph nodes, known as sentinel lymph nodes, and help inspect melanoma cells. You do not need lymph node surgery if there are no melanoma cells in the sentinel lymph nodes. But, if it contains cancer-causing cells, you can undergo a lymph node dissection.

Lymphadenectomy or lymph node dissection
If damaged cells have spread to other parts of the body, doctors would advise the removal of lymph nodes near the primary diagnosis site to avoid its spread to other body areas. This procedure is recommended for people with melanoma with ulceration or one over 0.8 mm thick. But, at times, the sentinel lymph node biopsy might be performed for melanoma with a thickness less than 0.8 mm, depending on other risk factors.

Radiation therapy
It is also one of the treatments opted for early-stage melanoma; it is also used in the more advanced stages. High-powered energy beams like protons and X-rays help destroy cancer cells under this treatment. In addition, radiation therapy might also be directed to the lymph nodes if the cancer has spread and affected other regions. Doctors even use radiation therapy after surgery. It is mostly done when the surgery fails to remove all the cancer cells from the affected area.

It is a treatment option that enables the immune system to combat cancer-causing cells. The body’s disease-fighting immune system may fail to attack and kill cancer cells as the malignant cells yield a protein that helps them to hide from the immune system cells. Immunotherapy helps break this process. Doctors usually recommend this after surgery, wherein melanoma has spread to the other body areas or the lymph nodes. Immunotherapy treatment can also help relieve the symptoms caused by the disease.

It is another systematic treatment wherein certain prescriptions help curtail the cancer cells’ growth by preventing them from progressing. At times, the treatment option completely destroys them. With advancements in immunotherapies and targeted therapy, chemotherapy is relatively less popular for treating metastatic or advanced melanoma. Also, there are certain chemotherapy ways used for specific regions, like the arm or limb, where surgery is not an option. 

Targeted therapy
These involve certain prescriptions that identify and focus on specific cancer cells, including BRAF gene mutation and certain proteins. Usually, targeted therapy is employed if cancer has spread to the other body areas or the lymph nodes. This treatment method helps slow down the process of disease progression to a great extent.

This treatment option is used when cancer has metastasized. Sometimes, the doctor may also administer this treatment option at stage 0 melanoma (in situ) where the cells have not progressed deeper than the top layer of the skin. The procedure involves the removal of melanoma cancer cells and some healthy skin along the lining. The amount of healthy skin removed by the doctor depends on the cancer’s location and size. Surgical excision for melanoma removal is performed at a dermatologist’s office under local anesthesia. However, in advanced melanoma cases, the doctor may advise other kinds of treatment instead of or in addition to surgery.

Fortunately, melanoma is relatively less prominent than other kinds of skin cancer. But, it is an aggressive form of cancer that spreads rapidly. However, chances of survival are high if you detect it early and get the correct early-stage melanoma treatments. So, routine checks can be beneficial if you fall under the high-risk group.