Melanoma Diagnosis and Treatment - A Detailed Guide

Comprehensive approaches are available for the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma. These approaches not only help in precisely diagnosing the condition but also in its adequate treatment. While surgery is the primary line of melanoma treatment, doctors may also recommend other treatment options, such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Melanoma Diagnosis Tests and Procedures

The following are the different tests are recommended for melanoma diagnosis:

Physical Exam

The initial step of melanoma diagnosis involves a thorough physical examination conducted by a doctor. During the physical exam, the doctor will examine the skin for any irregularities, focusing on moles or lesions that may exhibit characteristics associated with melanoma. The dermatologist or oncologist examines the size, shape, color, and borders of suspicious lesions during this comprehensive evaluation.


A crucial diagnostic procedure for melanoma is a biopsy, where a sample of the suspicious skin tissue is removed for laboratory analysis. There are various biopsy techniques, including excisional biopsy, incisional biopsy, and shave biopsy. The extracted tissue is examined under a microscope to determine if cancerous cells are present, providing crucial information about the type and stage of melanoma. A biopsy for melanoma is recommended for a definitive diagnosis.

CT Scan

Computed Tomography (CT) scans may be employed to assess the extent of melanoma, especially if there are concerns about potential spread to lymph nodes or other organs. CT scans utilize X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images, aiding oncologists in evaluating the size and location of tumors and identifying possible metastasis.

MRI Scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are valuable in providing detailed images of soft tissues, assisting in the assessment of melanoma's depth and potential involvement of nearby structures. This non-invasive imaging technique uses powerful magnets and radio waves to generate high-resolution images, aiding oncologists in treatment planning.

PET Scan

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans help detect abnormal metabolic activity in the body, which can be indicative of cancerous growth. In melanoma diagnosis, PET scans are valuable for identifying areas of increased metabolic activity, helping determine the presence of metastasis. This imaging modality is particularly useful in staging melanoma and guiding treatment decisions.

Apart from these melanoma tests, doctors may also recommend blood tests. A blood test for melanoma cancer diagnosis may be recommended to evaluate the levels of vital components and assess the functions of various organs. In some cases, blood tests may shed light on the presence of advanced melanoma.

What are the Efficient Melanoma Treatments?


Surgery is often the primary treatment for melanoma. Depending on the stage and location of the melanoma, surgical procedures may range from excision of the tumor and surrounding tissue to more extensive surgeries, such as lymph node dissection. Early-stage melanomas can often be effectively treated with surgical removal, while advanced cases may require more extensive procedures.

Wide Local Excision

This is a melanoma medical procedure that involves the removal of melanoma along with a margin of surrounding tissue to ensure complete removal while preserving function and appearance.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB)

Identifies and removes the first lymph node potentially receiving cancer cells, aiding in staging and determining lymph node involvement.

Lymph Node Dissection

This form of melanoma cancer surgery involves the extensive removal of lymph nodes in the affected region, and it is only recommended if sentinel lymph node biopsy indicates cancer spread.

Mohs Surgery

This melanoma surgery involves the removal of tissue, examined microscopically, ideal for complex anatomies like the face, minimizing tissue loss.

Curettage and Electrodesiccation

This is a type of melanoma surgery, wherein the surgeon scrapes off small, superficial melanomas and uses an electric current to destroy the remaining cancer cells.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery helps restore function and appearance after melanoma removal, employing techniques like skin grafts or flaps.


Immunotherapy is a revolutionary treatment approach that harnesses the body's immune system to combat melanoma. Checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive cell therapies are common forms of immunotherapy used in melanoma treatment. As a form of melanoma therapy, immunotherapy aims to enhance the immune response, enabling the body to recognize and eliminate cancer cells more effectively.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy focuses on specific molecules involved in the growth and spread of melanoma cells. Drugs such as BRAF and MEK inhibitors are examples of targeted therapies used to block specific pathways in melanoma cells, inhibiting their growth. Targeted therapy is particularly effective in cases where specific genetic mutations are present.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy rays to target and destroy cancer cells. It is employed in melanoma treatment to shrink tumors, especially in cases where surgical removal is challenging. As a melanoma therapy, radiotherapy can also be used post-surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells or to alleviate symptoms in advanced cases.


While less commonly used than in the past, chemotherapy may be prescribed in certain cases of melanoma. Melanoma chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. As a part of chemotherapy, certain melanoma medications are administered to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It is typically considered for advanced melanoma or when other treatment modalities are not feasible.

Palliative and Supportive Care

Palliative and supportive care plays a crucial role in melanoma treatment, especially in advanced stages. It focuses on improving the patient's quality of life by managing symptoms, providing emotional support, and addressing the side effects of treatments.

Treatment by Stage of Melanoma

Stage 0 Melanoma

In this early stage, when melanoma is confined to the top layer of skin, the primary treatment is often a wide local excision to remove the melanoma and surrounding tissue. Regular skin checks and monitoring are crucial for early detection and prevention of progression. In this stage, melanoma is curable.

Stage 1 Melanoma

Treatment typically involves surgical removal through wide local excision. If the melanoma is thicker, sentinel lymph node biopsy may be considered to assess potential lymph node involvement. Regular follow-ups and skin examinations remain essential for ongoing surveillance.

Stage 2 Melanoma

Surgery, usually wide local excision, is the primary treatment for stage 2 melanoma. Depending on the thickness and characteristics of the melanoma, sentinel lymph node biopsy may be performed. Adjuvant therapy, such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy, may be considered to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Stage 3 Melanoma

Treatment at this stage is more complex, often involving wide local excision, lymph node dissection, and possibly adjuvant therapy. Adjuvant therapy aims to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. Melanoma cancer treatment decisions, in this stage, are tailored based on the extent of lymph node involvement and other factors.

Adjuvant Therapy

Adjuvant therapy is considered after primary melanoma cancer treatment to target any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are common adjuvant options, aiming to enhance the body's immune response or target specific molecular pathways associated with melanoma.

Neoadjuvant Therapy

In certain cases, neoadjuvant therapy may be employed before primary treatment, especially for advanced melanomas. This approach aims to shrink tumors, making surgical removal more effective. Neoadjuvant therapy can include immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy.

Why Choose HCG for Melanoma Diagnosis and Treatment?

HCG is a renowned healthcare provider known for its comprehensive approach to cancer care. With state-of-the-art facilities and a multidisciplinary team of experts, HCG offers personalized and advanced diagnostics, treatment, and supportive care for melanoma patients, ensuring a holistic and patient-centric approach.


The treatment of melanoma varies by stage, ranging from surgical interventions to adjuvant therapies. Early detection, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing surveillance are crucial elements in managing melanoma effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before your melanoma diagnosis appointment, gather information about your medical history, including any skin changes or moles. Note down specific concerns or symptoms, and be ready to discuss your sun exposure and family history. Wear clothing that allows easy examination of your skin, and bring a list of medications. Open communication with your doctor is key to an accurate diagnosis.

Early-stage melanomas are often curable through surgical intervention, such as wide local excision. However, the likelihood of a complete cure depends on the stage at diagnosis. Advanced cases may require a combination of treatments, and while some individuals achieve long-term remission, others may face ongoing management to control the disease.

Melanoma survival rates vary based on factors like stage, treatment, and individual health. Generally, early-stage melanomas have high survival rates, with stages 0 and 1 having excellent prognosis. However, survival rates decrease with advancing stages. Timely detection, appropriate treatment, and regular follow-ups contribute to improved survival outcomes.

Stage 4 melanoma, where cancer has spread to distant organs, is challenging to cure completely. However, advancements in treatments, including immunotherapy and targeted therapy, have shown promising results in extending life and achieving long-term remission for some patients. Individual responses vary, and a multidisciplinary approach is crucial for managing stage 4 melanoma.

While a general physician can identify suspicious moles or skin changes, a definitive diagnosis of melanoma often requires a dermatologist or an oncologist with expertise in skin cancer. These specialists may conduct a biopsy and other diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of melanoma and determine its characteristics.

The time for diagnosing melanoma varies based on factors like accessibility to healthcare, the complexity of the case, and the need for additional tests. In some cases, a preliminary diagnosis may be made during a dermatologist appointment, while confirmation through biopsy results may take a week or more.

Routine blood tests are not typically used for melanoma detection. The primary diagnostic method is a skin biopsy, where a sample of suspicious tissue is examined under a microscope. Blood tests may be employed for monitoring systemic effects or response to treatment but are not direct tools for melanoma diagnosis.

Immunotherapy for melanoma is one of the modern treatment approaches available. This form of melanoma treatment involves boosting the body’s immune system to identify and attack melanoma cells. Checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive cell therapies are often administered as a part of immunotherapy for melanoma management.