Melanoma Treatment - Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high energy rays, like x-rays, to kill cancer cells. Although radiation is not an overly common melanoma treatment option, it is most often used as a symptom-relieving therapy in patients whose melanoma has spread to the brain or bones. In these situations, the radiation would not be expected to cure the melanoma, but it may help to make the patient more comfortable. Radiation may also be given to high risk Stage III patients after surgery, as a form of adjuvant, or preventative, treatment to reduce the risk of the melanoma spreading or returning. 

Radiation treatments only last a few minutes and are much like getting an x-ray, only the radiation is much stronger. Because of the strong energy that is used, radiation therapy requires careful planning to reduce the impact on surrounding, healthy tissues. Be sure to talk to your melanoma treatment team, especially your radiation oncologist, about the pros and cons of radiation for the treatment of melanoma. 

Possible side effects of radiation may include:

  • Issues to the skin at the site of the radiation
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss