Chemotherapy for Melanoma

Chemotherapy uses drugs that are typically injected or taken orally to kill cancer cells throughout the body. While chemotherapy may be used in cases of metastatic melanoma after other treatments have failed, it is no longer a common first line of therapy because newer immunotherapies and targeted drugs tend to work better.

Chemotherapy is administered in cycles, with treatment periods followed by rest periods to give the body time for recovery. There are a number of drugs that can be used against melanoma, including dacarbazine, temozolomide, nab-paclitaxel, paclitaxel, cisplatin, and carboplatin. They can be used alone or in combination with other drugs.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy for Metastatic Melanoma

The drugs used in chemotherapy can cause a number of side effects, including:

  • Appetite loss
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Increased infection risk
  • Mouth sores
  • Nausea

If you experience any of these side effects, your doctor can prescribe additional medications to lessen these side effects.

Isolated Limb Perfusion and Isolated Limb Infusion

Certain chemotherapy methods have been developed to localize the therapy to one part of the body so that side effects can be minimized. Isolated limb perfusion (ILP) and isolated limb infusion (ILI) are surgical procedures in which tubes are used to isolate the blood flow in an arm or leg from the rest of the body. Once isolated, a high dose of chemotherapy is circulated through the limb without impacting other areas of the body.