Cancer is complex — there is no routine melanoma, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.
The OSUCCC – James physicians 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.
At the OSUCCC – James, melanoma patients have a team of experts that includes medical oncologists, urologists, 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. Many of our experts also help write the national clinical guidelines for treatments.
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 country and to more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options — many that are available nowhere else but at the OSUCCC – James.
There are several types of treatment for melanoma. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual melanoma. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.
Surgery to remove the cancer is the most frequent treatment for all stages of melanoma. Types of surgery include:
Wide Local Excision
The doctor removes the melanoma and some of the healthy tissue around it.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
A doctor removes only the first lymph node or nodes in which melanoma likely has spread and analyzes samples from the nodes for signs of cancer. The nodes are identified using a special injected dye.
The doctor removes lymph nodes and a sample of the lymph node tissue is analyzed under a microscope for signs of melanoma.
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.
Though a surgeon may remove melanoma cells during a procedure, patients also may receive chemotherapy after surgery. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by destroying the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injected into a vein or placed directly into an organ or body cavity.
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 uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Most radiation is delivered from a machine outside your body that is targeted directly at the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, helps boosts a patient’s immune system to fight cancer. 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.
Targeted therapies use drugs and other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy cells. Several targeted therapies are being used to treat melanoma, including:
Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
Antibodies identify certain substances on cancer cells and attach to the cells to destroy them, block their growth or stop their spread. A doctor may give monoclonal antibodies by infusion or along with chemotherapy agents.
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.
Researchers are studying the use of drugs or substances that block the growth of new blood vessels that are needed to help melanoma lesions grow.
Oncolytic Virus Therapy
Researchers are studying 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 remaining cancer cells.
(Source: National Cancer Institute)
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.
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, metastasize 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 have received a melanoma diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to a melanoma specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.