The prognosis for patients with melanoma has not improved over the last 30 years. So far, almost without exception, clinical trials conducted with single or multiple agent chemotherapy, biological therapy (interferon-alpha, interleukin-2), and biochemotherapy have failed to demonstrate consistent survival benefit. Without effective alternate treatments, surgery must be considered the primary treatment of melanoma, independent of disease stage. Although surgery is clearly favored as the treatment of localized melanoma, consensus opinion and clinician preference become divided once melanoma progresses beyond its primary site. Many physicians will adopt an attitude of resignation and hesitancy when treating metastatic melanoma. As a result, patients with advanced disease are often treated with medications that produce little survival or palliative benefit at the expense of significant toxicity. Numerous studies have demonstrated clear and durable survival advantages for patients undergoing complete resection of metastatic melanoma. Further, surgical resection can produce an immediate decrease in tumor burden with minimal morbidity and mortality at a reasonable cost.
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