NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Overview melanoma treatments Side effects of cancer treatments
Side effects of chemotherapy
Side effects of chemotherapy depend on the drug,
how it is given, the amount taken, the length of
treatment, and the person. In general, side effects
are caused by the death of fast-growing cells. These
cells are found in the intestines, mouth, and blood.
Common side effects of chemotherapy for melanoma
• Low white blood cell counts,
• Bleeding and bruising,
• Nausea and vomiting,
• Loss of appetite,
• Mouth sores, and
• Hair loss.
Side effects of radiation therapy
Side effects of radiation therapy depend on the
dose and the area of skin being treated. Most of
the side effects are temporary. For example, skin
changes usually go away within 6 to 12 months
after completing treatment. Common side effects of
radiation therapy for melanoma include:
• Heaviness in radiated area,
• Sunburn-like skin changes,
• Fatigue, and
• Second cancer.
The focus of this book is on cancer treatments.
However, controlling treatment side effects is
important for your quality of life. It is important that
you are aware of and understand the possible side
effects of each treatment you receive. Don’t wait to
tell your treatment team about side effects. If you
don’t tell your treatment team, they may not know
how you are feeling.
You should also consider taking part in your hospital’s
system for tracking and treating symptoms if
available. This tracking system is called a REMS (
trategy) program. Taking
part in the REMS program is strongly recommended if
you receive the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab.
There are many ways to limit the problems caused
by cancer treatment. However, listing all the ways is
beyond the scope of this booklet. In general, changes
in behavior, diet, or medications may help. Examples
• Wearing elastic stockings or sleeves to help
prevent or control lymphedema,
• Medications to relieve pain, and
• Exercise to help reduce fatigue.