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newly diagnosed

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      Good Afternoon, I feel truly blessed to have found this site. I was newly diagnosed with Melanoma after a long 10 day waiting period on the biospy of a mole on my back. I am scared to death and cried for days. They also felt a spot on my thyroid and awaiting the US hoping they are not connected.

       Now that the crying is over I need to deal with getting through this. I have a wonderful surgical oncologist that i have complete trust in but the unknown is scary. I need to get my labs and US done before they will schedule surgery for removal and staging. They are also talking about possible grafting.

      I have questions about staging…several people that I know that were diagnosed years ago never got staged? Treatment seems to be different for some? I understand that staging determines the treatment following the surgery, please advise me if I am understanding this correctly.

      I also live in the Irvine area and would liketo find a local support group for Melanoma.

      Thank you for you advise and help in advance!

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          So sorry you've had to join this club, but this is a great place for support and knowledge. The people you know that were diagnosed many years ago probably had a very low stage melanoma. Stage really isn't written down anywhere, it's more something we can gather ourselves based on some information from pathology reports. It all depends on the depth of your primary tumor, the one they biopsied, and some other factors. If your lesion was more than .75mm then typically a sentinel lymph node biopsy would be performed in order to check lymph nodes, which would also be a staging surgery. If it was less than that depth, then it's a low stage lesion and lymph nodes don't get checked. If you give your pathology report details we can answer, or at least partially answer, the staging question for you. 

          Treament depends on staging, if it is a low stage (stage 0-2) then treatment is surgery, just the wide local excision which is the skin and tissue removal of the area around the biopsy site. If it is stage 3 then adjuvant treatment is available, the immunotherapy Yervoy (Ipi) is approved for that stage. If stage 4 (would need full body scan to rule out stage 4) then there are a lot of treament options available.

          Depending on what stage you end up in, and I hope you don't need this, but if you do need an oncologist (stage 3 and 4 folks see one) it is highly recommended to find a melanoma oncologist. General oncologists are not as familiar with the immunotherapy drugs and are generally not as knowledgeable about melanoma. Close to the Irvine area for good melanoma docs would be UCLA and Angeles Clinic. Again, I hope you don't need to get to that point, but it's good to know now just in case.

          Kim K

            Sorry you had to join, but this is one of the best sites over.  I can now officially say I am an "old timer" here.

            1.  Get copies of all your path reports, labs, x-rays etc.  This makes it easier to ask questions here so we can better help you.  Post your initial path report here so we can help you with initial staging etc.  We are not doctors though some of us here are.  We have all educated ourselves fairly well and can help you to ask the right questions.

            2.  The waiting always sucks.  Life does come back to normal, even with advanced stages.  It just may be a new normal.  Basically the anxiety gets better but still comes and goes.  This will be a roller coaster ride you never intended on riding, we can make it easier though.

            3. Your first step is to complete staging.  Do you need a sentinel node biopsy or not?  Early stages ex. 2A at best get a chest x-ray and some blood work.  Earlier stages don't usually get PET/CT scans etc.

            4.  Your nodule may be totally unrelated as they are common as well.  Don't panic until you know what you are dealing with.  If is too much, then stay offline.  If research gives you a sense of control over something you really don't, then learn as much as you can.

            5.  Learn the lingo.  Much has happened in a short period of time for melanoma.  Also why you don't need to look at older survival curves.  You are not a statistic and they are depressing.  The newer drugs have changed that for many.  B-raf inhibitors, genetic markers, immune system modulators, clinical trials etc. will become part of your vocabulary.

            6. Much of what I said applies to adavanced melanoma, not early.  Until you are staged, you just don't know.

            7.  I am alive and should be dead, at least from melanoma, but I am still here kicking A$$ and taking names.  I have been NED for almost 7 years from stage IV melanoma, and 15 years from my initial diagnosis at the age of 34.

            8. You are not alone, others may not understand you ex. assume you have breast cancer and "chemo" will cure you.  Afterall, its only skin cancer right?  Those are good times to come here to vent.



                Excellent post~!


                  I suspect that your friends did have a stage for their melanoma, but it probably just was not properly communicated to them.

                  I have to say that in 2010, my doctors did not tell me the stage of my melanoma. I think this is because the stage is only determined upon the outcome of the Sentinal Lymph Node Bipopsy (SLNB). In my case…I got a call from the doctor's office telling me that my SLNB lymph nodes were clear, but they did not indicate the stage of my melanoma at that time. I had to follow-up with a call to my doctor to confirm what I believed my stage to be…based upon the information that I was able to find online. I have heard others tell similar stories, so I suspect this is a wide-spread practice…doctors not providing clear follow-up communication to their patients regarding cancer staging.

                  The stage is vitally important in diagnosing and prescribing a treatment plan. If your doctor does not tell you your stage…just ask them for it.



                    Thank you so much for all the information….I read the path report yesterday and the biopsy showed maliganant melanoma and the melanoma reaches the edges of the sample no clear margins. Seeing my surgeon on Friday to schedule surgery. The area is in the middle of my back of course the only area with no fat…hahaha they are talking about grafting skin and I will have a sentinel node biopsy.

                    I guess this is the next part of the waiting period. Do they remove nodes at the time of this surgery is positive? 

                    I will post more on Friday after my meeting as I am sure I will have questions.

                    Are they any questions I can ask now of the surgeon other than the obvious.


                    Blessing to you all that have replied, it does help ease the stress!



                    Kim K

                      Remember it is the depth that matters, not the width.  If you are already having an SNB then the depth was at least 0.75 mm.  Post your path report here as there are other important clues as to how aggressive your tumor may be ex. ulceration wich will upstage you.  The depth also is highly correlated with spread / risk.  Regression is good.

                      You have the choice if the other nodes are removed at the same time, but that is only typically done if there is gross involvement of the nodes.  For microscopic spread in a node, often that is the only node that is involved.

                      Current thinking is revisiting the need for automatic nodal removal due to potentially permanent and severe side effects without showing much of a survival advantage.  The nodal basin can also be followed with regular ultrasound if needed.

                      Just some questions to ask.  Knowing now what I didn't know then, I would have to be hard pressed to remove all my nodes, especially in the groin area.  Just make your decision based on good information, then never ever look back and question yourself.  It doesn't do any good and nothing is a gaurantee or set in stone with melanoma.  You will often have more questions than answers which is normal.

                      Just get your staging completed first so you know fully what you are dealing with.

                      In my case, my SNB was negative and has always remained that way.  I was one of the rarer cases with direct spread via the blood stream (lung and pectoralis muscle).  I still have all my nodes and am grateful to have them and no nerve damage or lymphedema.



                      Update to my post…..U/S came back on Thyroid and now I need and FNA biopsy….Blood work came back good. How long must I wait for these results….


                        Just checking on your prognosis since March 9??  I live in your area and would also appreciate a support group. Let me know.  Rae


                            Thank you for checking on me! It has been a whirlwind month. I ended up getting second opinion from The City of Hope. I am having a local wide excision on Tuesday at COH. April 11th. Still so many unknowns until surgery. 

                            I also have thyroid cancer and was told that is slow growing and need to get the melanoma taken care of first. 

                            So scared as I have never really been sick during my lifetime. My faith is keeping me sane but as the date gets closer my mind goes into overdrive. 

                            i will post again after Tuesday. Prayers for everyone here and together we are stronger!


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