Testing & Treatment

Over the past 40 years, research has significantly improved our understanding of advanced melanoma regarding the molecular and genetic changes of a person's tumor. New diagnostic tools and treatment options are now available in the fight against advanced melanoma, but the battle continues.

One major advancement has been specific genetic tests, which health care professionals can use to:

  • Confirm a suspected diagnosis
  • Detect mutations
  • Screen patients to assess their likelihood of responding to therapies

living longer

There are therapies to treat advanced melanoma in patients with certain genetic changes (mutations) in their tumor, but physicians must first identify if a mutation is present and which form it may be.

There are many different types of genetic tests available. Some tests can only detect the most common mutations while others are more sensitive and can detect additional, less common forms. BRAF testing can be done with tissue obtained from a sample, or biopsy, from the tumor.

Melanoma treatment guidelines recommend testing for patients with advanced melanoma in order to identify whether genetic changes (mutations) are present in the tumor. Identifying the form of your advanced melanoma is an important step to developing a personalized treatment plan with your doctor. Treatment selection is based on a range of factors including stage of disease, age and overall health. Treatment options may include:

 

CURRENT TREATMENT OPTIONS

current treatment options
targeted therapies
Target tumors that have a specific type of damaged gene — preventing them from growing and spreading. In advanced melanoma, targeted therapies are available for patients with the BRAF mutation.
immunotherapy
Stimulates a patient's immune system to destroy cancer cells.
chemotherapy
Involves oral or injectable drugs that kill cancer cells.
surgery
Surgery is the main treatment option for most early-stage melanomas and used to remove tumors from the body.
radiation therapy
Uses high-energy rays, like getting an X-ray but with much stronger radiation, to kill cancer cells. While not often used to treat the original melanoma, it's sometimes used following surgery to prevent recurrence or slow its spread.

Making the right treatment decision is difficult and it's important to speak with your doctor to understand the benefits and risks of all melanoma treatment options. Click here to answer an interactive questionnaire and download a discussion guide that's personalized for you.

To further aid you in your decision-making process, we recommend visiting the resources below to find clinical trials, centers of excellence in melanoma or melanoma specialists in your area: