NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Melanoma - page 42

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
40
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Overview melanoma treatments Radiation and ablative therapy
Radiation and ablative therapy
Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses a beam of high-energy rays to
kill cancer cells. The rays damage a cell’s instructions
for making and controlling cells. This either kills the
cancer cells or stops new cancer cells from being
made. For melanoma, radiation is often given using
a machine outside the body. This method is called
external beam radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is almost never used to treat the
first (primary) melanoma tumor. Sometimes, it may be
used as adjuvant treatment after surgery to kill any
cancer cells that might have been left behind. A more
common use of radiation therapy for melanoma is to
relieve symptoms such as pain caused by the cancer.
Another more common use is to treat recurrent
or metastatic melanoma. Recurrent melanoma is
melanoma that has come back after treatment.
Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to
parts of the body far away from the first tumor.
SRS (
s
tereotactic
r
adio
s
urgery) is a type of external
beam radiation therapy that may be used for
melanoma. This type of radiation therapy is most
often used to treat melanoma that has spread to the
brain—called brain metastases. SRS delivers a high
dose of radiation to a very specific, small area of the
body.
Ablative therapy
Ablative therapy is treatment used to destroy a tumor,
tissue, or organ. Carbon dioxide laser treatment is
an ablative therapy for melanoma skin cancer. This
treatment is a gas-produced, colorless light beam
that is used like a surgical knife. The lasers cut into
the surface of the skin to kill the cancer cells without
reaching deeper skin layers. Ablative therapy is not
used to treat the primary melanoma tumor, but may
be used to treat satellite metastases or in-transit
metastases. Satellite metastases are small melanoma
tumors in the skin near the first tumor, less than 2
centimeters away. In-transit metastases are spots
where cancer has spread into lymph vessels more
than 2 centimeters away from the first tumor but not
into lymph nodes.
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