How is melanoma treated?

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Early-stage melanoma


Surgery for early-stage melanoma may remove the mole (excision surgery) or the mole and an area around it (wide-local excision surgery).

Surgery is the main treatment for early-stage melanoma.  Early-stage melanoma is often cured by surgery alone. More about surgery for melanoma.

Melanoma is treated in specialist centres in Ireland 

Locally advanced or advanced (metastatic) melanoma

With locally advanced cancer, it might not be possible to remove all the cancer cells with excision surgery, so you may need more surgery or other treatments.

With melanoma that has spread to other parts of your body (metastatic), you may have a combination of treatments. For example, surgery and targeted therapies. The aim is to control the spread of the cancer rather than to cure it. You may have treatments as part of a clinical trial


For locally advanced cancer, surgery can remove the mole (excision surgery) or a larger area (wide local excision) to reduce the risk that the melanoma will come back in the same area. If melanoma is found in your lymph nodes, these may be removed under general anaesthetic. Or, if the cancer is small and only detected on sentinel lymph node biopsy, your doctor may recommend ultrasound surveillance.

We have more information about surgery for melanoma

Targeted therapies and immunotherapy

These treatments can help to target and destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing. Or they can help your body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. Find out more about targeted therapies and immunotherapy for melanoma.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to control cancer. It may be used if targeted therapies and immunotherapy are not good options for you. Chemotherapy can be given to control advanced melanoma. Read more about chemotherapy.


Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. It is not often used to treat melanoma. It may be used if your brain or spinal cord is affected or to relieve pain. Read more about radiotherapy.

Will I get side-effects?

The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Read about the different treatments to see possible side-effects.  Your doctor or nurse will also discuss any possible side-effects with you before your treatment. We have information to help you cope with side-effects and symptoms.

Local recurrence 

Occasionally, melanoma comes back close to the original melanoma site. This is called local recurrence. Surgery is the main treatment for a melanoma that comes back in the same area. Other treatments are laser therapy, radiotherapy or isolated limb perfusion (ILP). This is where chemotherapy is given directly into an affected limb. For more information on treatments for recurrent melanoma you can talk to a cancer nurse by calling our Support Line on 1800 700 200, emailing the nurses at or visiting a Daffodil Centre. 

For more information

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1800 200 700

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