Patients with melanoma often require specialty services during the course of treating and managing the disease. The Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Clinic at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago involves physicians and specialists from divisions that are integrated in the care of melanoma patients. Practitioners from surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, dermatology, radiology, pathology and integrative medicine work collaboratively to provide the best individualized care for patients and their families.
Dermatologists, medical oncologists and surgeons at Rush examine patients for early signs of malignancy or premalignant lesions. Moles and other suspicious lesions are photographed by a medical photographer for further comparison and for patients to use in self-examination.
The center also emphasizes prevention. A nurse coordinator counsels patients on signs of early mole changes, methods of skin self-examination and sun avoidance.
Treatment Options for Melanoma
Decisions about treatment used in managing melanoma are made on an individual basis. Treatment options may include:
- Surgery: The standard first approach to melanoma management is to surgically remove the primary melanoma lesion and a margin of the healthy surrounding the lesion.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy or biotherapy either directly or indirectly uses your immune system to help fight melanoma. Immunotherapy is designed to repair, stimulate or enhance your body’s own immune responses.
- Chemotherapy: Systemic chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs that are usually injected or are given by mouth. These medications travel through the bloodstream to all parts of the body, where they attack cancer cells that have already spread beyond the skin to involve lymph nodes and other organs. Melanoma is not as responsive to chemotherapy as some other cancers, though it can relieve symptoms and extend survival in patients with Stage IV disease.
- Radiation: Radiation is not used to cure melanoma, but it may be used to help treat the disease along with other medications and to relieve symptoms.
Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors and scientists find ways to improve health and cancer care. A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective. Find out about current clinical trials at Rush.