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Radiation Therapy for Melanoma

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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This page discusses the use of radiation therapy for the treatment of melanoma. For a thorough review of radiation therapy, please see the radiation therapy treatment monograph .

Radiation therapy is the use of penetrating beams of high-energy waves or streams of particles called radiation to treat disease. Radiation therapy destroys the ability of cancer cells to grow and divide.

Radiation generally does not cure melanoma and is usually not used to treat the primary melanoma in the skin. (Usually, the primary melanoma is surgically removed). Sometimes, radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery to help prevent the melanoma from coming back in the skin or lymph nodes, but most patients do not receive radiation therapy after surgery for melanoma. Radiation therapy may help in controlling symptoms if the cancer has spread to the bone, brain, or other parts of the body.

Type of Radiotherapy Used for Melanoma

External beam radiation may be given to the bone or brain if cancer cells have spread to these regions. In external radiation therapy, rays are directed at the tumor from outside the body.

Effectiveness

Radiation is not used to cure melanoma. It primarily serves to relieve symptoms.

Sources:

American Cancer Society

Bast, R., et al. Cancer Medicine e5 ., Hamilton, Ontario: B.C. Decker Inc.; 2000

National Cancer Institute

Rakel, R. Conn's Current Therapy 2002 , 54th ed., St. Louis, MO: W. B. Saunders Company; 2002: 808-809.



Last reviewed February 2003 by Donald Lawrence, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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