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A headshot of a middle-aged woman, with fair skin and freckles, wearing a straw hat. She is smiling softly and gazing off into the distance.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with melanoma, you may be trying to learn as much as possible about the disease and its treatments. Read on to find out more.

The information on this website should be discussed with your healthcare professional and does not replace their advice.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that begins in the cells (melanocytes) that control the pigment in your skin. It usually starts in parts of the body that have received too much sun. However, it can also occur in parts of the body that have never been in direct sunlight.

New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of melanoma in the world.

Treatment with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)

Your doctor will plan your treatment according to your individual circumstances. These include the features of your melanoma, if and where it’s spread to and the symptoms you may be experiencing.

KEYTRUDA is an immunotherapy that may be used to treat melanoma if:

  • Your melanoma has spread (metastatic) or cannot be removed by surgery; or
  • You have stage IIB, stage IIC, or stage III melanoma and you have had surgery to remove the melanoma.

Talk to your doctor to see if KEYTRUDA may be right for you.

KEYTRUDA is funded in New Zealand for the treatment of certain patients with melanoma which has spread (metastatic) or cannot be removed by surgery – restrictions apply. KEYTRUDA is not funded for the treatment of patients with stage IIB, stage IIIC or stage III melanoma.


Expand for more information on terms and definitions related to melanoma.

Terms you may find useful:

A doctor who specialises in skin conditions, including melanoma.

A doctor who specialises in treating cancer with drug therapies – for example, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The expected outcome of your cancer. Your doctor is the best person to ask about your prognosis, but it is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of cancer.

A new or abnormal growth of tissue on or in the body. Tumours can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

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Questions to ask your doctor

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Patient Resources


Cancer Council Australia. 2021. Understanding Melanoma. A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends.
Available at:
Accessed on 23/09/2021

Arnold M et al. Global Burden of Cutaneous Melanoma in 2020 and Projections to 2040. JAMA Dermatol. 2022;158(5):495-503.


KEYTRUDA Consumer Medicine Information

PHARMAC. The Pharmaceutical Schedule.
Available at:
Accessed on 16/04/2023

NZ-KEY-00869. TAPS DA 2339KN TAPS NP20132. First Issued February 2024.