Metastatic Melanoma Treatment Options: What You Should Know

Metastatic melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer known today. As such, it may come as a surprise when you receive the diagnosis from your doctor. Because metastatic melanoma is a highly aggressive type of cancer, you will likely be rushed to meet with an oncologist and begin your treatment right away. Before you meet with your oncologist, you want to have an idea of what treatment options are available to you. This way, you go into your appointment well-informed and aware of what is to come. So, get to know the different treatments available to you for your metastatic melanoma and get started fighting your cancer as soon as possible. 


The primary defense against the early stages of metastatic melanoma is to surgically remove any tumors or masses on the body. Surgical removal of the cancer cells may in some cases completely eradicate the melanoma in your body. 

Even in later stages, your oncologist may recommend that you have any large or particularly invasive tumors removed during initial treatment. So, be prepared for the likelihood you will be undergoing surgery in the near future. 


One of the primary treatments used for metastatic melanoma is immunotherapy. While the term may be quite intimidating, immunotherapy simply refers to the medical process of stimulating your own immune system to fight off the cancer cells in your body. 

This is accomplished through the use of one of two medications. High dose IL-2 (interleukin-2) is a drug that is administered intravenously several times a day for around five days, two times a month. Immunotherapy using IL-2 is an aggressive form of treatment and is often used to treat metastatic melanoma in its advanced stages. If it is effective, IL-2 can stop the spread and growth of tumors and may even cause the cancer cells to disappear completely.  

The other immunotherapy medication often used to treat metastatic melanoma is Ipilimumab. This medication is only given once every few weeks and in fewer doses than IL-2. Ipilimumab is used to turn the immune system against cancer cells, but can also turn the immune system against otherwise healthy cells in the body as well. As such it must be used with care. 

Other Treatment Options

In addition to these basic treatment options, your oncologist may also recommend standard, well-known cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. These are often used in conjunction with surgery.

Radiation is used primarily if your metastatic melanoma has spread to the brain or possibly in the bones. However, it is not a primary treatment in most cases of metastatic melanoma. 

Targeted therapies are also quite common in treating metastatic melanoma and function similarly to immunotherapy. The idea is to block the production of specific proteins in the body that stimulate the growth and spread of cancer cells. In may cases, two or more treatments are combined, such as immunotherapy; targeted treatments; and surgery, to aggressively fight off the spread of your metastatic melanoma.

Now that you know the common treatment options available to you for your metastatic melanoma, you can schedule that appointment with a clinic like Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Wyoming LLC and get to work fighting back against your cancer.