If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with melanoma, you may be wondering what types of treatments are available. There can be a whole lot of medical speak to get your head around, we’ve gathered together information to help you navigate the things you may have heard.

 

Current treatment options

The treatment recommended for you will be based on your diagnosis and the stage of your melanoma. 

Current treatments for melanoma include surgery, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy. These therapies may be used alone or in combination.

The treatment options often follow these processes:

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Surgery
Melanoma is usually first treated with surgery to remove tumours. This may mean a cure for patients whose melanoma has been diagnosed at an early stage.


 

Immunotherapy
This involves a group of drugs that stimulate the body’s immune system to fight the melanoma. Immune system processes are thought to be important in the development of many cancers. Immunotherapy treatments are showing very impressive results in clinical trials. Some examples of these include Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) and Opdivo (Nivolumab), which are now Pharmac funded for certain patients.

 

 

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Radiotherapy
This treatment option uses radiation to kill melanoma cells. It can be precisely targeted at just the melanoma, so it does very little damage to normal tissue. Radiation therapy is usually given over several weeks.

 

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Immunotherapy
This involves a group of drugs that stimulate the body’s immune system to fight the melanoma. Immune system processes are thought to be important in the development of many cancers. Immunotherapy treatments are showing very impressive results in clinical trials. Some examples of these include Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) and Opdivo (Nivolumab), which are now Pharmac funded for certain patients.

New treatment options

Despite the current lack of effective therapies scientists have made remarkable progress. This has led to prospective new treatments, some of which look very promising. The most exciting and most advanced of these therapies include Zelboraf (vemurafenib) and Tafinlar (dabrafenib), both of which target the BRAF mutation, as well as Yervoy (ipilipumab, Bristol Myers-Squibb), which works to stimulate the body’s own immune response to attack the cancer. To date these treatments are not Pharmac funded.

Lastest Updates

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Keytruda

Keytruda - Medsafe

If you would like to learn more about Keytruda, access the information leaflet here or from the Medsafe website. This leaflet answers some common questions about KEYTRUDA. Please note, it does not contain all the available information and we advise talking to your doctor about it. 

The Fight Melanoma and NSCLC website is the best place to get the most up to date news about Keytruda. Keytruda is a prescription medicine to treat advanced melanoma. Learn more at Fight Melanoma

Opdivo

Opdivo - Medsafe 

If you would like to learn more about Opdivo, access the information leaflet here or from the Medsafe website. This leaflet answers some common questions about OPDIVO. Please note, it does not contain all of the available information and we advise talking to your doctor about it. 

Opdivo - Bristol-Myers Squibbs

For the latest information about Opdivo you can access information from a press release produced by Bristol-Myers Squibbs here, or by going to the Bristol-Myers Squibbs website. 

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To find out more information about new treatment option follow the links provided.

Melanoma Vaccines

Melanoma vaccines are a highly experimental and new type of therapy. Current results show that some people do not respond at all to the vaccine whereas others have a response that lasts for months or years.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are medical research studies aimed at improving health and cancer care. Melanoma New Zealand would like to see better access for New Zealanders to more melanoma clinical trials in New Zealand. We are working hard to encourage sponsors of clinical trials in melanoma to choose NZ as a country in which to perform melanoma research. We provide access to information about which locations clinical trials are currently recruiting around the country. See more information about clinical trials on our Research page.