According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 76,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2016. Though younger adults can develop melanoma, seniors are at a much higher risk, with Caucasian men over 65 having the highest frequency. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elderly care Naples families trust, discusses some information about treatment for this type of skin cancer.
Overview of Melanoma Treatment
Based on your elderly loved one’s medical history, cancer stage, and pathology report, doctors may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Surgery – Often the first line of treatment for early stage, highly localized melanomas, this procedure involves excising the entire melanoma along with a border of normal skin to ensure all cancerous cells have been removed.
- Chemotherapy – A systemic therapy designed to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy – Another systemic therapy that boosts the immune system to fight the cancer, most often used in cases where there is a high risk of metastases and recurrence.
- Targeted therapy – This type of therapy uses drugs to block the signals that allow cancer cells to grow and has been approved to be used on melanomas found positive for a particular gene mutation.
Treatment Side Effects
Seniors can react to cancer treatments in a variety of ways. The most common side effects for melanoma treatment include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Fluid retention and swelling
Treatment for Advanced or Metastatic Melanoma
If the melanoma spreads beyond the skin, it is much harder to treat. In these cases, participating in a clinical trial may provide the best treatment option. Clinical trials are research studies designed to determine the efficacy of new or cutting-edge cancer treatments, and they typically involve combinations of vaccines, immunotherapies, and new forms of chemotherapy.
The Importance of Palliative Care
Palliative care is designed to meet the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of individuals with serious illnesses like melanoma. The goal is to increase your loved one’s quality of life, but this type of care is not expected to cure the disease. A palliative care team works with your loved one to help control treatment side effects, clarify treatment options, and provide physical and emotional support.
If your loved one needs additional support while receiving treatment for melanoma, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We offer part-time and live-in care, and we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, stroke, and Alzheimer’s care in Naples. For more information on our elderly care services, call one of our qualified Client Care Managers at (239) 449-4701 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.