Cancer is complex — there is no routine melanoma, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James melanoma specialists and sub-specialists are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach. In fact, our physician experts actually help write the national clinical guidelines for treating specific cancers.  

At the OSUCCC – James, our melanoma treatment team of experts includes internationally recognized medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, dermatologists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are melanoma researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Working together and across medical disciplines, this super sub-specialized team develops individualized, highly targeted treatment plans that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer.

As one of only four cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the region and more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options.

There are several types of treatment for melanoma, including many new FDA-approved therapy drugs. The OSUCCC – James team of sub-specialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual cancer. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

Treatment for Melanoma

As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated comprehensive cancer center, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to novel therapies that may not be available anywhere else in the United States. The James also leads some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated clinical trials for melanoma.

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our melanoma sub-specialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on melanoma disorders and who reach across medical disciplines to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

One or more of the following treatments may be recommend. (Patients may also benefit from new therapies available in clinical trials.)


Surgery is used most often to treat melanoma. The OSUCCC – James surgical oncologists may perform one or more of the following procedures:

Wide local excision. The melanoma surgical experts remove the melanoma and some of the healthy tissue around it.  Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.

Lymphadenectomy. The melanoma surgical experts remove lymph nodes, and a specially trained OSUCCC – James pathologist analyzes the lymph node tissue under a microscope for signs of melanoma.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy. The melanoma surgical experts remove only the first lymph node or nodes in which melanoma likely has spread and analyze samples from the nodes for signs of cancer. The nodes are identified using a special injected dye.

Skin grafting. Healthy skin from another part of the patient’s body is used to replace skin that is removed to cover the wound from melanoma surgery.


Chemotherapy drugs stop cancer cell growth by either destroying the cells or by preventing them from dividing and making new cells. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injected into a vein or placed directly into an organ or body cavity.

When the drugs enter the bloodstream, they can reach cancer cells throughout the body (called systemic chemotherapy).

Combination chemotherapy uses more than one anti-cancer drug.

Regional chemotherapy is directed at the area of the body where the cancer cells are located.

Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion is a technique that delivers chemotherapy drugs directly to a patient’s arm or leg in which the melanoma is found.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation targeted directly at the cancer cells to destroy those cells or keep them from growing. A patient with melanoma may receive radiation therapy before or after a surgery to remove tissue or a tumor. Radiation can shrink a tumor to make surgery more successful, and it is delivered only to the tumor in order to prevent damage to surrounding, healthy tissue.

The OSUCCC – James radiation experts are leaders in innovative radiation treatments, and The James is one of the few hospitals in Ohio to offer radiation treatments in the prone position (the patient is lying down). Additionally the OSUCCC – James was the first NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the country to offer patients something called Localized Plaque Therapy – a special type of internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, for patients with melanoma.

Localized plaque radiation therapy involves attaching tiny radioactive seeds to a disk called a plaque. The doctor places the disk where the melanoma tumor is, and the gold disk delivers radiation directly to the tumor without damaging healthy surrounding tissue.

The OSUCCC – James also offers other leading-edge radiation treatments, including imaging-based radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery and using a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator.


Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, helps boosts a patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. For example interferon and interleukin-2 are used to treat melanoma by slowing the division of melanoma cells.

A protein called tumor necrosis factor is used in combination with other treatments to destroy melanoma cells.

Additionally, the OSUCCC – James melanoma research experts are conducting clinical trials that focus on using certain drugs to harness the power of the body’s own immune system to recognize cancer so that patients can receive therapy, then let their own immune system take over to achieve even more long-lasting positive outcomes.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are a drug treatment regimen designed to identify, target and attack specific cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy cells. These drugs tend to have less severe side effects and are usually better tolerated than chemotherapy drugs.

Several targeted therapies are being used to treat melanoma, including:

Monoclonal antibody therapy. Antibodies are proteins that identify certain substances on cancer cells, then attach to those cells to destroy them, block their growth or stop them from spreading. An OSUCCC – James melanoma expert may give monoclonal antibodies by infusion or along with chemotherapy drugs.

Signal transduction inhibitor therapy. Signal transduction inhibitors block signals between certain molecules inside a cell, which may destroy cancer cells. They are used for patients with melanoma that is advanced or cannot be removed by surgery.

Angiogenesis inhibitors. The OSUCCC – James melanoma researchers are conducting clinical trials on the use of these drugs or substances that can block the growth of new blood vessels that help melanoma lesions grow.

Oncolytic virus therapy. The OSUCCC – James melanoma researchers are conducting clinical trials on the use of targeted viruses to treat melanoma. The virus infects only cancer cells, but not normal cells. The patient receives radiation therapy or chemotherapy after oncolytic virus therapy to destroy any cancer cells that may be remaining.

Supportive Care

Supportive care is also sometimes called palliative care. Not only do melanoma patients at The James have access to a monthly support group specifically designed for them, but the experts in the OSUCCC – James Palliative Care Clinic also provide nationally acclaimed patient care services that are specifically designed to offer patients and their families the best quality of life, care and compassion throughout their melanoma journey.

This highly experienced team, which works directly with your primary physician as well as other cancer care specialists and sub-specialists, spans a broad range of disciplines, including advanced practice nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, clergy members and other experts who specialize in providing emotional, psychological and spiritual support – along with managing patients’ physical symptoms, providing guidance with complex treatment choices and helping them navigate the healthcare system.

It’s that sub-specialization and attention to detail that enables the OSUCCC – James to deliver the utmost in individualized care for each cancer patient. That also means our collective expertise leads to improved outcomes, faster responses and more hope for cancer patients everywhere.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Melanoma Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available.

Studies at the OSUCCC – James include utilizing newly FDA-approved therapy drugs and targeted therapies that offer excellent responses at the outset and working to make the responses last longer for patients. Additionally, immunotherapy (harnessing the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells and prevent cancer from spreading or coming back) is also another area currently under clinical research for melanoma patients.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only four U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

Additionally, Ohio State has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, spread or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a melanoma specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

Who Should Participate in a Clinical Trial

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Patients can center clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only four institutions funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and II clinical trials on NCI-sponsored anticancer drugs.

If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a melanoma specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 W. 10th Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43210


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