Melanoma is a cancer of melanocytes, pigment-producing cells in the skin, mucous membranes, and a specific part of the eye call the uvea. Although most melanomas arise in the skin, they can also arise in the mucosa of the head and neck and female genital tract, the gastrointestinal tract, the central nervous system, and the uvea of the eye. More than 75,000 individuals in the United States are expected to develop melanoma each year. Sun exposure does seem to increase the risk of melanoma of the skin. The 5-year survival rate of melanoma is >93% overall but drops to about 18% for patients diagnosed with distant metastases. Promoting prevention and early detection is key.
Depending on the stage at which an individual is diagnosed, treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy or immunotherapy, radiation therapy and hyperthermia. Like so many other cancers, the initial stage correlates strongly with the risk of recurrence, as well as the choice and outcome of treatments. The earlier melanoma is diagnosed, the more likely it can be cured.
The application of hyperthermia to a tumor can have numerous positive effects on cancer cells. Heat disrupts cell membranes and increases blood flow to the tumor, making the tumor more sensitive and vulnerable both to your body’s natural immune defenses and to other cancer therapies.
Research has demonstrated that hyperthermia when combined with radiation therapy, increases the likelihood of a complete response in melanoma cancers by upwards of 50%. Hyperthermia can be added to melanoma cancer treatment plan at any time.
Optimally, hyperthermia treatment is initiated as soon as the patient begins receiving radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Improving your therapeutic regimen leads to the best outcome. In addition, newer therapies such as immunotherapy might be advantageous for some patients.
For all patients, the goal is to choose the right therapy or combination of therapies that lead to the best outcome while minimizing side effects. Hyperthermia often has no or minimal side effects and has no known adverse effects on normal tissue. Adding hyperthermia can maximize the effectiveness of your therapeutic regimen without risking sensitive surrounding organs.