Diagnosed With Non-Resectable Melanoma? What Are Your Treatment Options?

If you've recently received the sobering news that your mole, freckle, or age spot is actually skin cancer melanoma, you may still be dealing with the shock of such a serious diagnosis. And discovering that this melanoma is non-resectable – that is, unable to be fully removed or excised with surgery – can be even more of a blow. Although non-resectable melanomas tend to have a lower overall cure rate than other types of skin cancers, there are a number of pioneering treatment options that can improve your odds of a long, healthy life. Here are your treatment options for non-resectable melanoma. 


Radiation therapy has long been the go-to treatment for those whose tumors can't be surgically excised (or situations in which surgery only led to the discovery of multiple additional tumors). During this treatment, the tumors are blasted with high doses of radiation to kill these cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. Radiation treatment may often result in the shrinkage or even total elimination of tumors, allowing you to finally rid yourself of a non-resectable tumor without undergoing a surgery that may not be successful.

Radiation treatment does have some side effects, including pain at the radiation sites, hair loss, nausea, and sensitive skin. You'll want to take extra care to avoid sunlight or other UV radiation while undergoing treatment to reduce your risk of skin irritation or exacerbation of your other symptoms.

Targeted treatment with biomarkers

As researchers learn more about what causes certain cancers to grow differently than others, they're discovering that each type of cancer cell has its own specific biomarkers – like proteins or enzymes – that cause these cells to reproduce. This means that targeting the biomarkers found in these specific cancer cells can kill these cells (or at least prevent them from replicating) without causing as much damage to the healthy cells surrounding them, improving your odds of a full recovery while minimizing the risk of serious side effects. 

Although it's only been during the last decade or so that biomarkers have been identified for many of the more common types of non-resectable melanoma, chemists have come far during this time in targeting chemotherapy treatments to these biomarkers. If you're seeking treatment for non-resectable melanoma, you may find that a chemotherapy regimen – either alone or in combination with radiation treatment – is enough to send your melanoma packing for good.