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HealthInfo Canterbury

Further investigations & treatments

Further investigations

If your doctor thinks there is a chance your melanoma could have spread from the skin to other parts of your body (called metastatic melanoma) you will need to have more tests.

These tests are to help find out how far the melanoma has spread from its original site. This is called staging, and stages range from zero to four. Stage zero means the melanoma is very thin and hasn't spread, and stage four means it has spread to distant parts of your body (called distant metastasis). DermNet NZ gives more information about the stages of melanoma (near the bottom of the page).

The tests used to stage melanoma include blood tests, looking at the nearby lymph nodes (this is called sentinel node biopsy), and scans such as ultrasounds or CT scans. You can read more about the tests that can be used to help with staging on the Melanoma Foundation of New Zealand website.

Further treatments

Lymph node dissection: axillary (armpit), groin and neck

Depending on the stage of melanoma you have, it may be necessary to remove all of the lymph nodes in the surrounding area. These pages give you more information about axillary (armpit), groin and neck lymph node dissection operations.

Non-surgical treatments

If your cancer is more advanced or has spread from the skin to other parts of your body (metastasis) you may be referred to the oncology clinic to meet a cancer specialist. They may recommend additional non-surgical cancer treatments. These can include using chemotherapy (drugs that kill cancer cells), immunotherapy (drugs that stimulate your own immune system to act against cancer cells) or radiotherapy (using radiation to kill cancer cells).

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Looking after myself after a diagnosis of melanoma

Compiled by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Approved by clinical director, Plastic Surgery, Canterbury DHB. February 2014

Sources

See also:

Axillary (armpit) lymph node dissection

Groin lymph node dissection

Neck lymph node dissection

Page reference: 87533

Review key: HIMEL-15455