Patient Guide


Talimogene laherparepvec (or T-VEC) is a genetically modified form of the cold sore virus that is designed to infect and kill melanoma cells. It has to be injected directly into melanomas, so it is only suitable for people who have lumps that can be felt (such as skin lumps or lymph nodes) with no melanoma in internal organs. The virus helps to stimulate the bodys own immune system to potentially remove the melanoma. This video explains T-VEC and how it works:

 Understanding T-VEC

Dr Elaine Vickers explains how T-VEC works, and why it is used in the treatment of melanoma skin cancer.

After an initial treatment, a second dose is given three weeks later with additional doses given every two weeks for at least six months, until there are no remaining injectable tumours to treat or other treatment is required. You should keep the injection site covered for 48 hours after treatment, and discard dressings in the bin provided by the hospital.

T-VEC is not offered as a treatment in all hospitals that treat melanoma and therefore you may have to travel to another hospital where they have been trained to administer the treatment.

Possible side effects

All cancer drug therapies are associated with some side effects that may impact on daily life to a lesser or greater extent. Early treatment of side effects can help manage them better.  

The most common side effects of T-VEC include tiredness, chills, fever, rashes, feeling or being sick, swollen hands and feet, headaches and pain at the injection site. For more information on T-VEC side-effects can be found here: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/drugs/talimogene-laherparepvec

If you have any worries or concerns, please contact your medical team or call our:

Melanoma Helpline on 0808 801 0777

There may be clinical trials looking at new treatments to treat your type of melanoma. 

For more information on clinical trials see the Melanoma TrialFinder

Questions you may have

  • What are my treatment options?
  • Where is the nearest hospital that offers this treatment?
  • How frequently will I have treatment?
  • What are the potential side-effects and what should I do if I experience anything unusual?
  • What clinical trials are potential options for me?
  • When will I know if the T-VEC treatment has been successful?