NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Melanoma - page 39

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
37
4
Overview melanoma treatments Treatment with drugs
cytokines that stimulate immune cells. Cytokines
exist naturally in your body as part of the immune
system. They can also be made in the lab and be
used as drugs to treat melanoma. When used as
a treatment, cytokines are given in much higher
amounts than what the body naturally makes. High
doses of these drugs may cause severe side effects.
A side effect is an unplanned or unwanted physical
or emotional condition caused by treatment. Doctors
don’t completely agree about using interferon alfa
as adjuvant treatment. This is because its benefits
may not clearly outweigh the side effects. Talk with
your doctor if you have any concerns about taking
interferon alfa.
Ipilimumab is a more recent immunotherapy drug
used as systemic therapy for melanoma. It is a
monoclonal antibody—a type of immune system
protein made in a lab. It works by removing the
“brakes” on the immune system. This boosts the
immune system’s response against melanoma cells in
the body.
Interferon alfa and IL-2 can also be used as local
therapy. In this case, the drugs are injected directly
into the tumor with a needle. BCG (
B
acillus
C
almette-
G
uérin) is also a local therapy that is injected directly
into the tumor. The third immunotherapy drug used
as local therapy for melanoma is imiquimod cream,
which is rubbed onto the surface of the tumor.
Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy drugs are designed to specifically
target cancer cells. For melanoma, these drugs
target the activity of a specific or unique feature
of melanoma cells. Genes are the instructions in
Order of treatments
Most people with melanoma will have more than one treatment. When and why treatments are
given can be hard to understand. Part 5 gives full details. Here, the terms that describe the order of
treatments are explained.
Neoadjuvant
treatment
Treatment given
to shrink the tumor
before surgery.
Primary
treatment
The main treatment
given to rid the body
of cancer.
Adjuvant
treatment
Treatment given after
primary treatment
to kill any remaining
cancer cells.
1...,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38 40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,...108
Powered by FlippingBook