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How To Prevent Melanoma Recurrence

Treatment For Recurrent Melanoma

How to Avoid Melanoma Recurrence Following Drug Treatment

A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. This is called a multidisciplinary team .

Your doctor or cancer specialist or nurse will explain the different treatments and their side effects. They will also talk to you about things to consider when making treatment decisions.

You may have one or more of the following treatments:

  • Surgery

    Surgery is the main treatment for a melanoma that comes back in the same area . If melanoma has come back in more than one area, it may be hard to remove it with surgery.

  • Immunotherapy

What Is Recurrent Melanoma

Melanoma is a cancer that usually starts in the skin. It can start in a mole or in normal-looking skin. About half of all melanomas start in normal-looking skin.

Sometimes melanoma can come back in the same area after treatment . This can be months or years later. This can happen if cancer cells are left behind after treatment. The cells are too small to be seen with the naked eye or on scans. Over time, these cancer cells can begin to grow again.

Sometimes, melanomas come back as clusters of melanomas. The clusters are near where the original melanoma first started. Doctors sometimes call these satellites or in-transit metastases.

The most common place for melanoma cells to spread is to the lymph nodes closest to the melanoma. When melanoma comes back in a different part of the body, it is known as advanced melanoma.

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Melanoma Recurrence Beyond The Original Site

Melanoma recurrences can also result when there is melanoma growth beyond the area originally removed by surgery, sometimes in nearby lymph nodes or other areas of tissue. Melanomas also can be spread by the bloodstream, resulting in new areas of re-growth. If a melanoma is going to recur, it will usually recur within the first two to five years after the original diagnosis and treatment. Patients having a local recurrence are strongly at risk of recurrence elsewhere in the body.

Factors that increase the risk of a recurrence are:

  • Thicker original melanomas, especially if located on the head, neck, hands and feet.
  • Presence of ulceration in the original melanoma
  • Lymph nodes positive for melanoma

Because of the high prevalence of metastasis, patients with local or regional recurrences of melanoma should have a physical examination and and imaging scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. The scan will take detailed, cross-sectional images of tissue. The scanning can be with a high-quality CT scan or with a combined PET-CT scan. Johns Hopkins nuclear medicine specialists have studied the application of combined positron emission tomography scanning with CT scanning to detect recurrent melanoma.

Surgery remains the first-line treatment for local and regional recurrences. Lymph node metastasis detected by physical examination or scanning may be treated by complete surgical removal of regional lymph nodes .

Other treatments occasionally appropriate include:

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What Are The Chances Of Recurrence

The chances of your melanoma coming back depend on its stage.

Those who have had melanoma are at greater risk for developing another melanoma. It can return in the same spot or elsewhere on your body, even 10 years after initial treatment.

Some cancer cells may remain inside your body that screening tests cant detect. If these cells grow into a tumor, its known as a recurrence.

Doctors classify melanoma in one of four stages:

  • In Stages 1 and 2, it involves the skin only.
  • In Stage 3, it has spread from the skin to the lymph nodes.
  • In Stage 4, it has spread from the skin to other organs.

The likelihood of recurrence varies by stage. It is less likely to recur at lower stages, Dr. Tarhini says.

The recurrence rate increases as the stage advances even after successful surgery, he says.

The stage also affects your prognosis. The lower the stage, the higher the likelihood is of curing your melanoma.

At Stage 1, over 90 percent of patients can be cured, says Dr. Tarhini. As the stage progresses, the likelihood of cure is less. However, with recent advancements in immunotherapy and targeted therapy for melanoma, even at Stage 4 , we are very optimistic that we can cure many patients.

Sun Protection And Vitamin D After Melanoma

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Humans generally make most of their vitamin D when their skin is exposed to the sun. This advice is written for melanoma patients in the UK in particular because what we say about vitamin D depends on what the weather is like and whether foods such as orange juice are fortified. In the UK few foods are fortified and the weather is not particularly sunny so that low levels of vitamin D are a particular problem. Similar conditions may apply to other countries in temperate regions of the world but this information is developed based upon research in the UK.

Once you have been diagnosed with melanoma, healthcare teams usually advise you to avoid too much intense sun exposure. This is for two reasons:

  • It may reduce the risk of developing another melanoma, which is important as 1 in 10 melanoma patients develop other primary melanomas in time.
  • There are theories that sunburn may stop your immune system working as well as it should.

Yet, we know sun exposure is generally important to health because it allows your body to make vitamin D, which is crucial for bone and muscle health. Older people taking vitamin D for example are less likely to fall. Click here to download a leaflet which provides advice on this.

If you were to significantly reduce the amount of sun exposure you get now, then this may reduce your chance of another melanoma but could damage your health by reducing your vitamin D levels.

So what is our advice to you?

Most importantly, avoid sunburn

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Keeping Personal Health Records

You and your doctor should work together to develop a personalized follow-up care plan. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your future physical or emotional health. ASCO offers forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan after treatment is completed.

This is also a good time to talk with your doctor about who will lead your follow-up care. Some survivors continue to see their oncologist, while others transition back to the care of their family doctor or another health care professional. This decision depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, side effects, health insurance rules, and your personal preferences.

If a doctor who was not directly involved in your cancer care will lead your follow-up care, be sure to share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them and with all future health care providers. Details about your cancer treatment are very valuable to the health care professionals who will care for you throughout your lifetime.

The next section in this guide is Survivorship. It describes how to cope with challenges in everyday life after a cancer diagnosis. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.

Screening And Diagnosis For High

Melanoma is associated with a well-defined set of risk factors, which include advancing age, male sex, lighter skin pigmentation, a history of intermittent intense sunlight exposure, a history of indoor tanning bed exposure, a personal history of dysplastic nevi or prior melanoma, or a strong family history of melanoma. Identification of high-risk melanoma patients facilitates improved outcomes when education and surveillance guidelines are appropriately tailored.

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Expert Review And References

  • Alberta Health Services. Sentinel Node Biopsy in Primary Cutaneous Melanoma Clinical Practice Guideline CU-011 . 2016: .
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Melanoma. 2015: .
  • Cancer Care Nova Scotia. Guidelines for the Management of Malignant Melanoma. 2013: .
  • Keidan RD. Medscape Reference: Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in Patients With Melanoma. 2014: .
  • National Cancer Institute. Melanoma Treatment for Health Professionals . 2016: .
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Melanoma . 2016.
  • Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Clinical Practice Guidelines: Melanoma. 2015: .
  • Ribas A, Slingluff Cl Jr, Rosenberg SA. Cutaneous melanoma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015: 94:1346-1394.

Precision Cancer Medicines & Immunotherapy

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The purpose of precision cancer medicine to define the genomic alterations in the cancers DNA that are driving that specific cancer. Precision cancer medicine utilizes molecular diagnostic & genomic testing, including DNA sequencing, to identify cancer-driving abnormalities in a cancerâs genome. Once a genetic abnormality is identified, a specific targeted therapy can be designed to attack a specific mutation or other cancer-related change in the DNA programming of the cancer cells.

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Get Your Antioxidants Here

While virtually all experts agree that eating foods rich in these compounds is good for your overall health, the evidence that they specifically help prevent skin cancer is stronger for some nutrients than others. The good news, though, is that they also protect against other cancers and conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease. So dig in!

Protect Children From The Sun

Children need special attention, since they tend to spend more time outdoors and can burn more easily. Parents and other caregivers should protect children from excess sun exposure by using the steps above. Children need to be taught about the dangers of too much sun exposure as they become more independent.

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Family History And Genetic Predisposition

After a patient receives an initial melanoma diagnosis, his or her personal risk for a second primary melanoma is 38 times higher than that of the unaffected population. A recent meta-analysis identified eight genomic loci specifi-cally associated with varying levels of statistically significant increases in melanoma risk: MC1R, TYR, TYRP1, SLC45A2, ASIP/PIGU/MYH7B, and CDKN2A/MTAP. The investigators noted there may be two different genetic drivers for melanoma development: those involved in pigmentation change and those involved in nevi development. Numerous studies continue to shed light on the genetic components of melanoma and define them as potential targets for treatment. Screening for patients who are genetically predisposed to melanoma may include frequent clinical exams, referral to a specialist, dermoscopy by a trained professional, total-body photography, and/or sequential digital imaging over time . Genetic testing is generally recommended only for those with a strong family history, although the level of evidence for this recommendation is weak.

Which Patients Will Benefit

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The use of pembrolizumab as an adjuvant therapy for people with stage IIB or IIC melanoma is currently under priority review by FDA. Dr. Joseph said that if the drug is approved for this use, doctors will need to talk with their patients with stage II melanoma about the potential risks and benefits of taking pembrolizumab after surgery.

Studies are still needed to identify ways to distinguish which patients with high-risk stage II melanoma will respond to pembrolizumab, Dr. Mehnert said, including blood-based and tumor-based biomarkers.

Further study is also needed, she added, to learn how long patients should take pembrolizumab, which in this study was a year.

Do we really need to give a year of therapy? We’ve adopted that schedule because adjuvant trials historically have gotten a year of therapy, but I’ve seen people at some of the later doses, she said. Patients developing type I diabetes is extremely rare, but it happens. And that, to me, is one of the most devastating side effects of immunotherapy.

Thats why it will be important to see if a shorter period of adjuvant treatment can be given without jeopardizing the benefit of reduced recurrence risk, she said.

Despite the unknowns, Dr. Luke said that just having an additional treatment option will help some patients. In my conversations with patients, the risk of recurrence and metastasis is a significant psychological morbidity that they carry with them, and so being able to address that has value, he said.

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Whats My Risk Of Melanoma Recurrence

An individuals risk depends on the treatment used to treat the original cancer, their personal medical history, and the severity, size, or extent of the original melanoma. Some studies have found that long-term melanoma recurrence is dependent on the thickness and location of the original melanoma, with thicker tumors being the most likely to recur. Also, having a primary melanoma that is considered ulcerated is considered to contribute to an increase in the risk of recurrence.3

Primary Prevention Of Melanoma

Primary prevention is designed to inhibit UV radiation-induced malignant cellular transformation by increasing sun-protective behaviors and reducing indoor tanning at individual and population levels. Sun protection and indoor tanning have been recent targets by governmental regulation and behavior modification efforts.

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Researchers Discover How To Boost Efficacy Of Vaccine To Prevent Melanoma Recurrence

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York found that a vaccine created to prevent the recurrence of melanoma can be twice as effective when patients also receive two additional components that boost the number of dendritic cells in their immune system.

Results of a phase 2 clinical trial were published online ahead of print in the journal Nature Cancer .

According to investigators, the results of the clinical trial show that adding the small molecule Flt3L, which increases the number of dendritic cells, boosted the vaccine’s effectiveness at inducing the production of antibodies and T cells that can later fight melanoma.

Further, the addition of a second component, called poly-ICLC, also strengthened the ability of the dendritic cells’ to promote antibodies as well as helper and killer T cells.

Researchers at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, along with colleagues at the National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found that adding the two immune-boosting components can increase the immune response for not only melanoma patients but possibly others whose cancers express similar antigens.

The results are important because most cancer vaccine trials have failed to show clinical efficacy, the studys authors noted.

Melanoma Skin Cancer Strikes Again

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Study Shows 8% of Patients Get Melanoma Again within 2 Years of 1st Diagnosis

April 17, 2006 — MelanomaMelanomaskin cancer may return more often than expected, experts report in the Archives of Dermatology.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skincancercancer. It’s much rarer than nonmelanoma skin cancers.

The study included 354 melanoma patients living in New Hampshire. The findings include:

  • 27 patients had recurrent melanoma within two years of their first diagnosis.
  • 20 patients had recurrent melanoma within a year of their first diagnosis.
  • Atypical molesmoles upped the odds of recurrent melanoma.
  • Melanoma didn’t always return in the same spot.

Melanoma patients should be closely monitored, and past studies have shown lower melanoma recurrence rates, note Linda Titus-Ernstoff, PhD, and colleagues.

Titus-Ernstoff works in Dartmouth Medical School’s community and family medicine department and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

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A Healthy Diet May Prevent Melanoma Recurrence

If you’re a melanoma survivor, you know that early detection and treatment are critical, since the five-year-survival rate for people with melanoma that’s detected early is about 98 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In addition to watching your sun exposure, you can decrease your risk of developing skin cancer or its recurrence through healthy eating. Here, the best foods to reach for.

Preventing And Detecting Second Skin Cancers

Routine screening with a skin examination for a new melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer is a necessary part of follow-up care, as is sun protection and sun avoidance. Screening for melanoma and other skin cancers by a doctor or other health care professional may be recommended. Regular photography of the skin to closely watch your skin may be recommended. If possible, you should ask your doctor for copies of your photographs and learn how to perform a skin self-examination. There is growing evidence that individuals who are followed using photographs are diagnosed at an earlier stage of melanoma.

Protecting your skin from UV radiation is important to help prevent second skin cancers, either melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer. Many people who are treated for melanoma lead an active, outdoor lifestyle. It is important to take steps to protect yourself from further skin damage. You can protect against further sun damage by:

  • Participating in outdoor activities before 10:00 AM or after 4:00 PM

  • Wearing long sleeves and pants

  • Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Please remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or, if you are sweating or in the water, every hour.

  • Wearing UV-protective sunglasses

  • Wearing a hat

  • Avoiding all use of indoor tanning devices

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Major Advances In Melanomatreatment


Immunotherapyhasmore than tripled melanoma survival rates. In years past, patients withadvanced melanoma lived an average of six to 12 months after diagnosis.Immunotherapy has been shown to help extend patients lives to many years.

Immunotherapy is the art and science oftraining a patients immune system to fight off cancer cells. We deliver itthrough an IV, and in the future, we hope to be able to make immunotherapy moredirected against the patients specific tumor for more precise treatment. Immunotherapyalso can reduce the risk of recurrence for patients with melanoma aftersurgery.

Its worth noting that immunotherapy can causeserious side effects due to overstimulation of the immune system. Patientsshould have immunotherapy at an academic medical center because preventing andmanaging the side effects requires a specialized, team approach.


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