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Metastatic melanoma is a form of cancer that typically starts in the skin and spreads to other areas of the body. Melanoma affects melanin-producing cells called melanocytes that are found in the skin as well as in mucous membranes and eyes. Melanoma most commonly starts as an unusual mole or bump on the skin that, if left untreated, is likely to spread, or metastasize, to other areas of the body. It is then considered stage 4 or metastatic melanoma.

What are the symptoms of metastatic melanoma?

The first sign of melanoma is typically an unusual mole that is large, has a ragged border, has uneven coloring or changes over time. In some cases, melanoma may appear as a scaly patch of skin, a flaky or bleeding rash or a raised nodule that is itchy or painful. When melanoma metastasizes, other symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A persistent cough
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Changes in appetite

If you are experiencing symptoms of melanoma, whether in an early stage or an advanced stage, it is important to consult with a physician to receive a diagnosis and treatment. As with other types of cancer, early detection and treatment greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome and improved quality of life.

TIL therapy is the next generation of cellular immunotherapy and provides a much-needed option for metastatic melanoma patients. TIL therapy is the most reliable option after traditional standard-of-care therapies have failed.

How is metastatic melanoma treated?

Patients who have been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma can turn to Moffitt Cancer Center for individualized treatment and supportive care services. The multispecialty team that makes up our Cutaneous Oncology Program specializes in treating all stages of melanoma. Advanced-stage melanoma typically involves surgery to remove the mole as well as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, limb infusion and perfusion, immunotherapy or a combination of these options to destroy any other cancer cells. A patient’s treatment plan will depend on many individual factors, including where the melanoma has spread, the patient’s general health and other considerations.

What is TIL treatment for metastatic melanoma?

TIL therapy, which was FDA-approved in February 2024, is for metastatic melanoma patients previously treated with a PD-1 blocking antibody, BRAF inhibitor or MEK inhibitor.

The one-time T-cell therapy infusion takes advantage of the body's own immune system to seek out and fight cancer cells. Melanoma tumors are surgically removed and sent to a manufacturing facility where the immune cells - or tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes - are removed and grown.

Patients receive chemotherapy to temporarily lower their immune system before receiving the TIL infusion to make room for the new army of immune cells. This process takes about a month and a half from surgery to infusion.

To learn more about receiving metastatic melanoma treatment at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. No referral is necessary to schedule an appointment.