First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll talk about your symptoms and your doctor may remove a small sample of mole tissue to examine (a biopsy). If the biopsy is positive for melanoma, your doctor may order imaging tests, such as CT, MRI or PET scans and X-rays. These tests help determine if the melanoma is contained or has spread to other areas.
Melanoma treatment depends on a number of factors, including how thick it is, if it has spread to the lymph nodes and what stage the cancer is in. Your doctor may recommend surgery combined with additional treatments to remove the melanoma and any lymph nodes that may also contain cancer.
Head and neck melanoma is grouped into four stages. Stage I, II, and III melanoma are often treated with surgery. Stage IV melanoma may also be treated with surgery, but additional treatments may include:
- Immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to work harder and smarter to attack cancer cells. Man-made immune system proteins may be prescribed to help the body fight the cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy, in which multiple narrow radiation beams (light energy) precisely target the cancer.
- Vaccine trials, which are given to people who have been diagnosed with cancer to help boost the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer.