In order to decide whether adjuvant therapy is right for you, it is important you understand how likely it is your melanoma will come back. Your doctor will be able to give you an idea of the risk of your melanoma returning when they know what stage your melanoma is. They can then help you understand the benefit you might get from adjuvant therapy. They use information from clinical trials involving patients with melanoma who were treated with adjuvant therapy. They will look carefully at what happened to patients whose melanoma was similar to yours, and who were given the same treatment. This will help your doctor estimate how much adjuvant therapy might reduce the risk of your melanoma returning.
Some patients will be cured of their melanoma by surgery alone. Unfortunately, there are no specific tests that will tell us exactly who will go on to have further problems from their melanoma. This means that there is a chance you may be receiving the adjuvant therapy unnecessarily. Conversely, adjuvant therapy is also not a guarantee of success. Some patients will have both surgery and adjuvant therapy and their melanoma will still come back. However, adjuvant therapy can reduce the risk of recurrence of your melanoma after surgery.
Some people will experience side effects with adjuvant therapy, but these do not affect everyone. Many people are able to live normally whilst having treatment. However, it is important to be aware of potential side effects in advance and discuss with your doctor what these might be. People who already have underlying health conditions might be more at risk, and your doctor will take this into account when discussing adjuvant treatment with you.
Some people want to do everything possible to reduce the chance that their cancer will return, even if this means putting up with the risk of side effects. Other people prefer not to risk extra side effects if there is likely to be little benefit from treatment. Ask your doctor what they recommend for you, and why. These decisions can be very difficult, and your doctor can help you decide whether or not the benefits of adjuvant therapy outweigh the risks for you.
NB: Please note that adjuvant treatment may not be recommended for all patients with Stage 3A melanoma. This is because patients with a sentinel node metastasis of 1 mm or less were excluded from trials due to the minimal benefit expected in this patient group. Your medical team should be able to help you with any questions you have about this.