Melanoma, an extremely dangerous form of skin cancer, has seen a number of significant advances in its treatment in recent years. With treatment options ranging from surgery to pharmacological, immunotherapy and targeted therapies, the fight against melanoma is now more effective than ever. In this article, we explore different treatment options and discuss some of the most innovative emerging therapies.
Surgical excision remains the basic treatment for melanoma. The goal of the surgery is to completely remove the tumor along with a margin of surrounding healthy tissue. The margin of safety depends on the thickness of the melanoma.
If you have advanced melanoma, more complex surgery, such as lymph node dissection, may be needed if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
## Pharmacological therapies
Chemotherapy, once widely used to treat advanced melanoma, has given way to more effective and targeted therapies. However, it can still be used in some cases.
Immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of melanoma in recent years. This type of therapy harnesses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy drugs, such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab, have been shown to significantly improve survival of patients with advanced melanoma.
## Targeted Therapies
Targeted therapies are designed to attack specific genetic or molecular abnormalities found in cancer cells. For melanoma, targeted therapies are often used for tumors that have mutations in the BRAF gene. Drugs that inhibit the BRAF protein, such as vemurafenib and dabrafenib, have shown good results in controlling the disease.
## Innovative Therapies
Innovation continues to lead the fight against melanoma. One of the most promising areas is chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. This gene technology modifies the T cells of the patient’s immune system to specifically attack the cancer cells. While still in the early stages of testing for melanoma, it has shown promise in treating other types of cancer.
Another area of interest is therapy with oncolytics, viruses designed to infect and kill cancer cells. T-VEC is an example of such a therapy, already approved for the treatment of advanced melanoma.
The fight against melanoma is constantly evolving, with promising new therapies being developed and tested. While prevention and early detection remain our best weapons, treatment options continue to improve, offering hope to those affected by this disease. Remember, every patient is unique and the most effective treatment will depend on the specific characteristics of the tumor and the patient’s general health condition.