Thank you for writing. I'm very sorry about your husband's diagnosis.
For the benefit of our readers, melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. In stages I and II, melanoma may be effectively treated with surgical removal of the lesions.
However, in stage III the melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes that are located close by the lesion. In stage IV, it has spread to lymph nodes that are farther away and to other internal organs. Advanced stages of melanoma are more difficult to treat.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be tried after using newer forms of immunotherapy and targeted therapy, as those other types of treatments have been found to be more effective to treat advanced melanoma.
Stage IV melanomas are very hard to cure, as they have already spread to distant lymph nodes or other areas of the body.
As with stage III, surgery may be used in stage IV to remove the melanoma lesion, surrounding skin, lymph nodes close by, lymph nodes farther away and any organs that the melanoma has spread to.
Any metastasis that cannot be removed may be treated with radiation, immunotherapy, targeted therapy or chemotherapy.
Newer forms of immunotherapy, such as ipilimumab (Yervoy), have been shown to help some people with advanced melanoma live longer. Targeted therapies like those that tackle BRAF gene changes may also help patients to live longer.
Chemotherapy may help to shrink tumors. Biochemotherapy, which is a combination of both chemotherapy and immunotherapy, may be tried.
In stage IV melanoma, treatment is more directed towards extending one’s life since finding a cure is so difficult.
Clinical trials are another avenue for those with advanced stage melanoma. These are research controlled opportunities for patients to try newer discovered drugs. Talk to his doctor about how to find out about clinical trials that may be suitable for him.
Please keep working with this doctors - we are unable to recommend a particular treatment for him - an oncologist needs to be consulted.