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What metastatic melanoma treatments should you discuss with your doctor?

When you’re diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, it's easy to feel like you’ve lost control. But you have power when it comes to your treatment plan—the power to team up with your doctor in the decision-making process. So after your doctor has informed you of your melanoma staging, and where your melanoma has spread, you’ll want to do your homework on the different melanoma treatment options available. This way, you can make sure that you and your doctor take the time to explore the range of treatments, and which have the potential for long-term survival, if that’s your goal.

Some treatment options for metastatic melanoma could include:

  • Surgery—This option calls for a surgeon to cut the cancerous tumors or lymph nodes out of your body to prevent further spreading. Many people will have the main tumor and the margins—the tissue immediately surrounding the tumor—surgically removed—even if their oncologist is prescribing other treatment

    With advanced melanoma, surgery isn’t always possible or recommended, often because of the location of the tumors. Some melanomas are described as inoperable or “unresectable” if they are not suitable for surgery

  • Radiation therapy—Your doctor may recommend high-energy radiation therapy to help kill cancer cells in your body. Surgery and radiation can still play a role in treating metastatic melanoma. But as approaches to oncology continue to evolve and advance, systemic therapy—treatment that circulates through your bloodstream—is used more and more

Today, there are more treatment options that are giving hope for improving a metastatic melanoma prognosis

What metastatic melanoma treatments should you discuss with your doctor?

  • Immunotherapy—Immunotherapy is a treatment option that works through your own immune system. YERVOY® (ipilimumab) is an immunotherapy that may help your immune system —your body's natural defense—by restoring the immune response against metastatic melanoma

    YERVOY is thought to boost the activity of T cells, something everyone’s immune system has. YERVOY may not work in all patients and may affect healthy cells too, which could result in serious side effects in many parts of your body. Some of these side effects may lead to death. Learn more about YERVOY. Then ask your doctor if YERVOY could be right for you

    The field of immuno-oncology is helping doctors and scientists understand how immunotherapies, like YERVOY, may help the immune system to fight cancer.

  • Targeted therapy—Sometimes a cancer is traced to one specific gene mutation. This treatment intercepts signals, or messages, needed for cancer cells to grow. This kind of treatment targets the mutated genes, but it may impact healthy cells as well. It’s important to know that, while you must have the mutation to be a candidate for targeted therapy, it's not your only option. It's up to you and your doctor together to evaluate all the treatment options and decide which is right for you
  • Chemotherapy—This treatment may involve drugs that, when used alone or in combination, go into the bloodstream and attack cancer cells. Chemotherapy is an approach often used to treat metastatic melanoma, but its effects are not limited to the cancer cells

Metastatic melanoma and clinical trials

  • Clinical trials—These are conducted to test new treatments and find out if they work better than current treatments. With clinical trials, new, unapproved therapies that may further improve a metastatic melanoma prognosis could still be in the research phase, but available to you. Talk to your doctor about whether you may be eligible for trials.
BEING A CAREGIVERBeing an active caregiver isn't easy. Get help and suggestions from the start.
YOU'RE NOT ALONESee stories and experiences from YERVOY patients.
SET YOUR GOALSDecide what’s important to you, then share with your doctor.
More Important Safety Information +

Important Safety Information about YERVOY® (ipilimumab)

YERVOY can cause serious side effects in many parts of your body which can lead to death. These serious side effects may include: intestinal problems (colitis) that can cause tears or holes (perforation) in the intestines; liver problems (hepatitis) that can lead to liver failure; skin problems that can lead to severe skin reaction; nerve problems that can lead to paralysis; hormone gland problems (especially the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands); and eye problems.

These problems may happen anytime during treatment with YERVOY or after you have completed treatment. Getting medical treatment right away may keep the problem from becoming more serious. Your healthcare provider will check you for these problems during treatment with YERVOY. Your healthcare provider may treat you with corticosteroid medicines. Your healthcare provider should perform blood tests, such as liver, hormone, and thyroid function tests, before starting and during treatment with YERVOY. Your healthcare provider may need to delay or completely stop treatment with YERVOY, if you have severe side effects.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. Even seemingly mild symptoms can lead to severe or even life-threatening conditions if not addressed. Do not try to treat symptoms yourself.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Intestinal problems (colitis) that can cause tears or holes (perforation) in the intestines. Signs and symptoms of colitis may include: diarrhea (loose stools) or more bowel movements than usual; blood in your stools or dark, tarry, sticky stools; and stomach pain (abdominal pain) or tenderness
  • Liver problems (hepatitis) that can lead to liver failure. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis may include: yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes; dark urine (tea colored); nausea or vomiting; pain on the right side of your stomach; and bleeding or bruise more easily than normal
  • Skin problems that can lead to severe skin reactions. Signs and symptoms of severe skin reactions may include: skin rash with or without itching; sores in your mouth; and your skin blisters and/or peels
  • Nerve problems that can lead to paralysis. Symptoms of nerve problems may include: unusual weakness of legs, arms, or face; and numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Hormone gland problems (especially the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands). Signs and symptoms that your glands are not working properly may include: persistent or unusual headaches; unusual sluggishness; feeling cold all the time; weight gain; changes in mood or behavior such as decreased sex drive, irritability, or forgetfulness; and dizziness or fainting
  • Eye problems. Symptoms may include: blurry vision, double vision, or other vision problems; and eye pain or redness

Pregnancy and Nursing:

  • Before you receive YERVOY, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. YERVOY can harm your unborn baby. Females who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment with YERVOY and for 3 months after the last dose of YERVOY. Before you receive YERVOY, tell your healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if YERVOY passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with YERVOY and for 3 months after the last dose of YERVOY.

Tell your healthcare provider about:

  • All your medical conditions, including if you: have immune system problems (autoimmune disease), such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, or sarcoidosis; have had an organ transplant; and have liver problems
  • All the medicines you take including: all prescription and over-the-counter medicines; vitamins; and herbal supplements

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list to show your healthcare provider and pharmacists each time you get a new medicine. You should not start a new medicine before you talk with the healthcare provider who prescribes you YERVOY.

The most common side effects of YERVOY include: tiredness, diarrhea, itching, rash, nausea, vomiting, headache, weight loss, fever, decreased appetite, and difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of YERVOY. For more information, ask your healthcare provider.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see U.S. Full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNING regarding immune-mediated side effects, and Medication Guide for YERVOY.

Indication

YERVOY® (ipilimumab) is a prescription medicine used in adults to treat melanoma (a kind of skin cancer) that has spread (metastatic) or cannot be removed by surgery (unresectable).

It is not known if YERVOY is safe and effective in children less than 18 years of age.