Melanoma Vaccines

Vaccines for melanoma are treatments that work to prevent the recurrence of cancer after surgery in patients with high-risk melanoma (stages IIB, IIC, III and IV). They can be used as:

  • Adjuvant therapy: Secondary cancer treatment after surgery. Patients receive adjuvant therapy to help delay or prevent the recurrence of cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: Is a type of treatment that activates the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Systemic drugs reach all parts of your body through the bloodstream. 

What Are Melanoma Vaccines?

Vaccines for melanoma treatment can be either systemic or local therapy.

Immunotherapy vaccines contain killed, or inactivated, melanoma cells or parts of cells called antigens. As a systemic treatment, the antigens travel through your bloodstream and stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer in all parts of your body.

Unlike vaccines for flu, pneumonia and other illnesses, melanoma vaccines do not prevent melanoma. The vaccines are adjuvant cancer therapy for patients who have already had surgery to remove melanoma tumors.

Learn more about how immunotherapy and adjuvant therapy work.

Latest Treatments for Advanced Melanoma

Patients with high-risk melanoma have a variety of treatment options for adjuvant therapy. Learn more about the latest, most effective treatments:

Melanoma Research

Since its founding in 2007, the Melanoma Research Alliance has awarded over $88 million to research aimed at better preventing, diagnosing and treating melanoma. Learn more about our funded research.

Last reviewed: May 2016

Reviewers: John Kirkwood, Lynn Schuchter, Louise Perkins