NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Melanoma - page 38

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Overview melanoma treatments Treatment with drugs
Treatment with drugs
Cancer doctors use drugs to treat melanoma in
different ways. Sometimes drugs are given to treat
melanoma in a specific, small area of the body,
such as the tumor and nearby area. This is called
local or regional therapy. Drugs can also be given to
treat melanoma throughout the body. This is called
systemic therapy. Doctors use systemic drugs to treat
cancer cells that may have spread beyond the skin to
distant sites. The types of drugs used for melanoma
include immunotherapy, targeted therapy, vaccine
therapy, and chemotherapy.
The immune system is the body’s natural defense
against infection and disease. The immune system
has many chemicals and proteins that are made
naturally in the body. These substances can
also be made in a lab to use as immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy) is
treatment that increases the activity of your immune
system. By doing so, immunotherapy drugs improve
your body’s ability to find and destroy cancer cells.
Immunotherapy may be used as adjuvant treatment
after surgery. Or, it may be used as primary treatment
for melanomas that can’t be removed by surgery.
Depending on how the drugs are given,
immunotherapy can be used as local therapy or as
systemic therapy.
Chart 3
lists the immunotherapy
drugs used for melanoma.
Two common immunotherapy drugs used as
systemic therapy for melanoma are interferon alfa
and IL-2 (
eukin-2). They are molecules called
Chart 3. Immunotherapy drugs for melanoma
Generic name
Brand name (sold as)
Route given
Systemic therapy
Interferon alfa
Liquid injected into a vein or under the skin
Peginterferon alfa-2b
Liquid injected under the skin
Liquid injected into a vein
Liquid injected into a vein
Local therapy
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin None
Liquid injected into the tumor
Interferon alfa
Liquid injected into the tumor
Aldara, Zyclara
Cream applied to the surface of the tumor
Liquid injected into the tumor
1...,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37 39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,...108
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