MPIP: Melanoma Patients Information Page

The MPIP is the oldest and largest community of people affected by melanoma hosted through the Melanoma Research Foundation. It is designed to provide support and information to caregivers, patients, family and friends. Once you have been touched by melanoma—either as a patient or as a family member or friend of a patient—you become part of a community. It is not a community anyone joins willingly. But if you must be part of this group, you will find no better place to find the tools you need in your journey with this cancer, and the friends who can make that journey more bearable.

The information on the bulletin board is open and accessible to everyone. To add a new topic or to post a reply, you must be a registered user. Please note that you will be able to post both topics and replies anonymously even though you are logged in. All posts must abide by MRF posting policies.

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emagdnim83's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 10/9/2015 - 9:34am
Replies by: Ed Williams

So my father (77y/o) has been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma in May 2015. He had the primary removed in 2006 with a tumor depth of 0.6mm and it turned out to be amelanotic malign melanoma (it was a red suspicious mole). Follow-Up Checks didn't show anything for the next years.

Until April 2015. He had very bad pain in his back which first wasn't anything it made us worry because he always had problems with his spine (had a discogenic surgery 30 years ago). But this time the pain didn't go away so he went to the hospital in May 2015 where it turned out that his cervical spine was badly damaged due to tumor activity. He had to undergo surgery to stabilize the spine and a biopsy was made. Result was the tumors were mets from the melanoma. Scans showed he had multiple mets in his spine, hip bones, shoulder bones and "little ones" in his lungs which they couldn't tell if they were really mets or just granulomas. So Stage 4. 

He is B-RAF positive so he started a Therapy with Zelboraf in late June 2015 plus radioation of his spine mets in order to stabilize it. After 2 Weeks on 4-0-4 he had to go to the hospital because of a sudden very bad rash. Zelboraf was paused for one week then he started again with a reduced dosis 2-0-2. Side Effects were manageable but the sun sensivity and fatigue were really challenging, especially because we here in germany had an extreme heat wave from june to september. In End of August suddenly a lot of small black points started growing on his head (skin) which were tested and were diagnosed as mets. CT-Scans in September shows that his mets grew under zelboraf and new mets showed up in the liver and maybe in the pankreas :-(.

Zelboraf was stopped immediately and one week later he got his first dose of Opdivo (Nivolumab) at 3mg/kg every 2 weeks. One Day after his first Infusion he was rushed to the hospital because his heart beat rate went lower than 40. It seems that it wasn't because of the infusion but due to atrial fibrillation (he has this since 15 years which is treated with beta-blockers and blood thinners). He was able to go home after 2 Days and his Nivolumab-Therapy will continue since it seems it had nothing to do with it.

Next Thursday he should get his 2nd dose of Nivolumab but it was now delayed because his blood tests showed he has too low leukocytes so he gets a infusion first to build them up and after that, when blood is ok again he will get his 2nd infusion. 

Is this a common side effect? I know that leukocytes often are low on traditional chemotherapy but i haven't heard of it with immunotherapy.

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Debbieamccoy's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 10/8/2015 - 10:53pm

Since I had my first two doses of Ipi and Keytruda ice noticed my eczema clearing up with out using any thing for it and my facial skin hasn't looked this good since my teens . Maybe it's just wishful thinking that this stuff is working 

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RayPMcConnell's picture
Replies 14
Last reply 10/22/2015 - 8:01pm

On October 13, 2013, I asked my primary care physician to look at a mole on my lower right chest. After examining it he stated that it was a benign keratosis.

On October 4, 2014, I first experienced groin pain and swelling that lead to emergency surgery for what was thought to be an incarcerated hernia. It turned out to be a swollen lymph node. The local pathologists eventually referred the specimen to the Mayo Clinic, who diagnosed metastatic melanoma in late October. I was then referred to the Melanoma Clinic at U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor.
A PET scan was done on November 7, which revealed no additional hot spots other than the post surgical inflammation in the right groin and the mole on my abdomen. Scattered indeterminate lung nodules were detected that would require follow-up.
At my first appointment in Ann Arbor on November 12, I was informed that I would undergo right groin lymph node resection surgery on December 4. The mole was removed, biopsied, and confirmed as the point of origin (Clark's Level IV, Breslow Depth 5.5 mm).
The surgery was performed, and, after over a month of recovery time and the removal of the two surgical drains, I was first seen by my oncologist in Ann Arbor, who stated that I was Stage 3C, and would be subsequently seen for surveillance assuming that the chest, abdomen, and pelvis CT and brain MRI were negative.
The January 19, CT scan revealed multiple nodules in both lungs, several having quadrupled in size compared to the November 7 PET scan (the largest went from 4 to 17 mm). A lung biopsy on February 6, confirmed that I was Stage 4.
I received 2 of 4 infusions of the Nivolumab and Ipilimumab combination immunotherapy treatment on February 27 and March 24, before severe toxicity reactions forced a stoppage.
I developed drug-induced autoimmune hepatitis, diabetes requiring insulin injections (blood sugars spiking to over 500), and meningitis-like brain inflammation. 
I was hospitalized for two weeks and prescribed steroids for a few months until my liver function returned to normal.
On the bright side, CT scans in March and July showed continued shrinkage in both the number and size of the lung tumors, and the CT scan done last Friday showed No Evidence of Disease!


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I found this brochure on brain mets from the American Brain Tumor Association.  I thought it gave a solid background for anyone where this is a new issue so I wanted to share the link.

To preface this, there is new data that says gamma knife rather than whole brain radiation may have better outcomes and is not be as damaging to the brain.  It also may not be beneficial in the long term to use whole brain radiation.   

"Study finds Gamma Knife radiosurgery alone yields equal survival outcomes for patients with two to 10 tumors vs whole brain radiation."




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Patina's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 10/17/2015 - 2:07am
Replies by: Patina, kylez, yazziemac

My Mom, who is has Stage IV Melanoma (11/2013) and has been treated for 28 brain tumors, went for her regular followup and was told that one tumor had a bit of bleeding around it. - I didn't go with her to her appointment this time and don't have all the information on this appointment. She was headed to Las Vegas after her appointment for a little vacation.

She was told to come back in 2 weeks for a re-exam and that she could not drive right now because of the bleeding.

I can't find a lot of information on bleeding around the brain tumor after gamma knife radiation and am curious of what others may have been told if this has occurred.  She said that her brain might reabsorb the blood, but I am worried that they've asked her to come back after 2 weeks when she usually see's the doctor every 2 months. 

Anyone experience anything like this or know anything about bleeding around brain tumors?




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mkirkland's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 10/8/2015 - 3:31pm
Replies by: brewgirl68, geriakt

Just curious what treatments you guys have had for stage 3a. I meet with my medical oncologist 11/5. 

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Gordknight's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 10/12/2015 - 2:11pm

So to give you a brief history I am somewhat of a hypochondriac.. was diagnosed with a stage 1a melanoma back in October of 2014 and had my WLE in early November.  So its has almost been a year.  My melanoma was located on my left neck, Superficial Spreading, was clark level 2, 0.22 mm breslow thickness and had no ulceration and had no mitosis.  Because of the shallowness of the lesion no SNB was done.  The scar has been healing nicely.

I know that even those of us that arent hypochondriacs it takes a while to not think that every new pain or ache is melanoma coming back of metastitis.  Anyway I have been keeping up with my appointments with my Derm and he has removed a few spots since and all have come back benign.  

Anyway, about a month ago I woke up and my left ear felt compltely muffled.  Hearing was drastically reduced.  Went to an instacare who sent me to an ENT who couldnt find anything.  within a week after the ENT appointment my hearing came back completely, however ever since (so the last 3 weeks or so) I have had pressure on and off in both my ears, and random sensations and pains in my face and shoulders and neck, but the most concerning are random ice pick like headaches that come and go.  There is no rhyme or reason to them, they are sharp and stabbing and usually occur on either my left or right temple.. sometimes on the top of my head and rarely the back of my head.  Sometimes I go 5-10 minutes between them.. sometimes I go 5-6 hours between them and otherwise feel normal and fine.  No real balance issues, no vision problems, haering is mostly back to normal.  No swollen lymph nodes that I can feel.  

Of course my mind instantly jumped to brain mets from my thin melanoma after this not clearing up for 2-3 weeks.  I know the odds arent really tipped that way, but of course melanoma has destroyed my way of thinking logically. To be fair I have been under a lot of stress and anxiety over the last two months with health issues my wife has had that have thankfully been resolved.

So I went to my GP today and told him the whole story and because of my melanoma history he is sending me in for an MRI tomorrow.  He said the symptoms dont sound typical of bran tumor but beacuse I had melanoma he doesnt want to take any chances.  He then also perscribed me an antibiotic that he wants me to take if the MRI shows nothing or sinusitus.  

Anyway are we jumping the gun getting an MRI with a lesion as thin as mine?  I know that melanoma can spread at any stage and its a tricky beast, but it kind of scares me.  My derm said that the chance of my melanoma spreading internally or coming back is less than 2 percent and that the chance of me getting another one in my lifetime is around 1 in 50.. but 2% is 2%.  Anyway thanks for listening to me vent and thanks in advance for any advice you have.  Ill let you know how it turns out. 

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 10/7/2015 - 2:29pm
Replies by: 273c, arthurjedi007

The doctors are recommending radiation post surgical resection for stage 3.  Of course, there's the option to wait and see but it sounds like the recommendation is pretty strong for radiation (esp since melanoma has come back once locally).  Wondering what other people in our shoes have done?  And if you've done radiation, what have the short term/long term side effects been for you?  We are likely going to be doing  Keytruda/ study as well but need to decide on radiation first....and quickly:) 

Thank you so much for sharing!  Also just wanted to say what a blessing this site has been for us.  It's nice to know there are others out there going through this and we're not alone.  The support and information provided by the people on this site has been unbelievable.  Thank you!


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mary1233's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 10/8/2015 - 9:23am

I hope someone can explain this. The announcement that the FDA has approved the ippi-nivo combination for melanoma patients who are wild-types also included a statement that a year's worth of the treatment would cost in the neighborhood of $250,000.

Here's the queston. I get my insurance through my husband's employer who self-insures. Can my husband's employer fire him because they don't like my medical bills and do not want to be responsible for them? Has anyone dealt with this?

Don't even get me started on how the cost could be $250,000 - I do not understand why anyone whould think I am worth that kind of bill.

Best wishes to all.




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Coneflowers's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 10/10/2015 - 8:11pm
Replies by: tbmorgan, Coneflowers, stars, kylez, Anonymous

Looking for someone that might have experience with this. My daughters case is very rare, as she was born with this rare type of melanoma. We think it was growing as she was growing,  as she has it in many places. Liver, lungs, bone, scalp. She has started opdivo and just turned 6 months old. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.  

Thank you!

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mturgeon64's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 10/8/2015 - 3:59pm
Replies by: Kim K

Just wondering if anyone has had to deal with high ammonia levels. My dads in the hospital now because he is so confused and disoriented. Just looking for some guidance.

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liberty04281's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 10/7/2015 - 8:51am

I finished Yervoy treatment at the beginning of April. I had scans every two months. Last scan was on Saturday and I saw my oncologist today. Lung nodules shrunk after the treatment, but there are a few very small left after the treatment. This is my third scan after I finished the treatment, and all scans so far are stable. My oncologist said it is very good, and my next scan is in three months. I do not know what to think.

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I have not been on these boards in years--but am back with a new concern.  Its beginning to look like every 4 years when this begins to fade something resurfaces to remind me...I aint in control.  Perhaps this post is more the cathartic need to write out my concerns hoping that another has been down this road before than any practical help at this point.

I have been diagnosed twice with stage 1 melanomas (2007 and 2011) on different sites; Plus 5 major dysplastic exisicions; 3 minors and countless biopsies over these past 8 years, I have sadly become numb and routine to these procedures.  However, always grateful how "minor" the melanomas were and straightforwad the treamtent plans (my prayers to those who have far more severe melanomas).

But now that we have basically run out of moles on the skin to biopsy, my eye doctor did the old "hmmmmmm" while giving me my annual exam.  She then said there is a small choroidal nevus that needs to be looked at in 2-3 months to see if there is any change.

Highly likely its just a freckle...but the old anxiety of "have they found something" was reawaken.  Not to mention the fact that this one is in my eyeball so I cannot obsessively watch over these 3 months.

So wondering if there are others who may tend towards a dysplasia nevus syndrome every gotten one in the eyeball?  Since they cannot biopsy (can they?) an eyeball freckle to figure out what it is, what can be done?


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Millykamp's picture
Replies 22
Last reply 10/10/2015 - 9:23pm

so I got my report back on my SLNB and just need someone to explain it to me. 

Sentinel lymph node #1, left axilla, biopsy: One lymph node positive for

metastatic melanoma (1/1)

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy 

Body site: Left Axilla

SLN: #1



Diagnoisis: yes

H and E: : positive 

S-100: positive 

Melan-A: positive 

Location of metastatic tumor: Subcapsular
Extracapsular extension: Absent
Benign nodal nevus: Absent


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Anonymous's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 10/7/2015 - 9:20am
Replies by: Bubbles, Polymath, BrianP, Anonymous



Has anyone used this drug and what have you heard about this treatment?  I am going to see a Doctor who has tried this vaccine on patients and I don't know much about it.  

I believe this is an alternative option for Stage III Melanoma.


Thanks for any input.


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