Duke medical oncologists offer a full range of biologic therapies, including immune-based and targeted treatments that can only be administered by highly experienced doctors and nurses.
Duke surgeons are among the national leaders in developing novel techniques that allow regional delivery of new therapeutic agents to an extremity affected by melanoma. These regional treatments allow high doses of chemotherapy to be given without affecting the rest of the patient’s body.
For basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, chemotherapy is usually topical -- applied in a cream. Topical chemotherapy is typically used for cancers that don’t penetrate below the surface of the skin.
For melanoma, chemotherapy may be used after surgery to prevent cancer from coming back. Regional chemotherapy may be given as a hypothermic isolated limb perfusion, in which high dose of chemotherapy drugs are delivered directly to the bloodstream of a particular arm or leg, which is isolated with a tourniquet.
Immunotherapy may be used to treat skin cancer if surgery isn’t possible. Immunotherapy, sometimes called biologic therapy, involves administering drugs that boost the body’s own immune system’s ability to fight the cancer.
Drugs used for skin cancer treatment include interferon, ipilimumab (YERVOY), and interleukin-2.
The Duke Cancer Institute is one of a limited number of centers offering melanoma patients several novel treatments, including:
To more effectively treat melanomas that invade the brain, Duke is conducting clinical studies combining the widely used anti-cancer drug temozolomide with arsenic trioxide, which encourages cancer cells to self-destruct.
Learn how to make an appointment at the Duke Cancer Institute.