Melanoma experts from Memorial Sloan Kettering explain why this disease requires different treatment approaches than other skin cancers.
A diagnosis of melanoma can certainly be a scary thing, not to mention overwhelming and confusing. But you can rest assured that when you come to Memorial Sloan Kettering for treatment, you’re in very good hands.
About 1,200 people with the disease receive care from us each year, in part because we’ve set the standards for diagnosis, gene analysis, surgery, and other aspects of treatment. Also, many of our experts in pathology, dermatology, medical oncology, surgery, and radiology focus exclusively on diagnosing and treating skin and eye melanoma, so it’s an illness that we know well.
Through our research, we’ve made enormous strides in treating melanoma, dramatically improving the chance for beating this cancer and having a high quality of life. In fact, all of the recently introduced melanoma drugs, such as ipilimumab (Yervoy™), were developed in studies conducted at MSK.
Even if you have metastatic melanoma, the outlook for your disease is much brighter today than it was just a few years ago. As of 2012, we’ve been using therapies that significantly lengthen lives and enhance quality of life for many people with this condition. And as a comprehensive cancer center, we’re able to draw on the expertise of our MSK colleagues in other areas for guidance on handling melanoma that has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, bones, or brain.
For eye melanoma, our experts have decades of experience using brachytherapy, a form of radiation in which radioactive material is surgically placed on the outside wall of the eye corresponding to the tumor on the inside of the eye. Most people can be treated with this approach.