I'm relatively new to the boards here. No offense intended, but I'd sure rather NOT be here. Currently making decisions for my father, who was staged at IIA (although there are some who feel it's closer to IIB or IIC due to the size of his nodule at 4mm).
The long and short is that it was a 4mm nodular-type Spindle Cell Melanoma on Dad's shoulder/back area. WLE was performed with good margins (>2cm per surgeon). SLN biopsy was negative. There was focal ulceration and positive mitotic rate. Apparently, through my research, it appears that the these characteristics are not terribly uncommon with Spindle Cell type tumors. Dad is BRAF negative.
He had his WLE in mid-March. Just had his first Oncologist appt. at UPMC on Wednesday, which is supposedly a world-renowned facility. Dr. Kirkwood (who happens to be "the guy" on the major study that pioneered the Interferon craze) recommended Interferon (the 1-month, followed by 11 months). Dad was not happy about it, but was trying to stay positive and confident. He was told he could receive treatment at his local hospital through an Onc. that would work under Kirkwood's direction. He had that appt. yesterday, and the local Onc. said he absolutely refuses to administer the Interferon, and strongly advises against it in my Dad's case. My Dad has relatively severe MS and already has pre-existing depression, with a "near" suicide attempt a few years ago (he had the gun in his hand but couldn't pull the trigger). Those two factors alone were enough to make the decision for the local Onc. The local Onc. said his options are to go back and receive his treatment through Kirkwood in Pittsburgh, or try to find another local Onc. who will do it. But again, he strongly urged him to not pursue this treatment. He made the valid point that "If a guy BUILT the car, he's gonna try to sell it." in regards to Kirkwood's recommendation. This, of course, has left my Dad feeling terribly confused.
I'm a Respiratory Therapist, so I do have some medical background. I've read the studies and done my homework as thoroughly as possibly during this whirlwind. I was actually surprised that it was not only "offered" by Dr. Kirkwood, but pretty much insisted upon. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be present at the appt, as I live on the other end of the state. But as soon as I heard the treatment plan, I had concerns about it immediately. My Dad currently takes another form of Interferon (Avenox) for his MS. It's a once/week injection with which he has pretty significant side affects. Sometimes the day after his shot, it's all he can do to walk to the bathroom. He gets debilitating headaches and body aches, among other symptoms, and has even had convulsions until they adjusted dosage for it. He's 62 years old and in questionable health as it is. I just didn't see how an even HIGHER dose of Interferon multiple times per week for a year WOULDN'T put him on flat on his back. And after pouring through the research, I'm just not very certain at all that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
I feel terrible that my Dad has been placed in this position and is now confused as to what to do, but I AM glad that at least he has both arguments (both for and against) regarding Interferon treatment on the table in front of him. I don't want to make the decision FOR him, although I think he would prefer that. Instead, I'm trying my best to present the information and urge him to make a decision that HE'S comfortable with. I've read here in multiple threads that once a decision is made, to never look back, and I've shared that advice with him.
This has been truly one of the most difficult experiences thus far, and I guess I was hoping for advice of any kind. Thoughts on treatment, etc. I just want to do the right thing for my Dad, and when you have two such polarizing different opinions on the matter of treatment, it CAN be quite frustrating and confusing. I apologize for the lengthy post, and thanks in advance for any insight you could offer. God bless you all who are going through this, and god bless this site for the invaluable information I've gained already.