The following are brief descriptions of the treatments most often used for each stage. (Other treatments may sometimes be appropriate.)
People with Stage 0 melanoma may have minor surgery to remove the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue.
People with Stage I melanoma may have surgery to remove the tumor. The surgeon may also remove as much as 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) of tissue around the tumor. To cover the wound, the patient may have skin grafting.
Stage II or Stage III
People with Stage II or Stage III melanoma may have surgery to remove the tumor. The surgeon may also remove as much as 3 centimeters (1 1/4 inches) of nearby tissue. Skin grafting may be done to cover the wound. Sometimes the surgeon removes nearby lymph nodes.
People with Stage IV melanoma often receive palliative care. The goal of palliative care is to help the patient feel better—physically and emotionally. This type of treatment is intended to control pain and other symptoms and to relieve the side effects of therapy (such as nausea), rather than to extend life.
The patient may have one of the following:
Surgery to remove lymph nodes that contain cancer cells or to remove tumors that have spread to other areas of the body
Radiation therapy, biological therapy, or chemotherapy to relieve symptoms
People with advanced melanoma can find helpful information in the National Cancer Institute booklet