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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mizmena's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 3/25/2015 - 9:38am

I am newly diagnosed and all this terminology is another language for me...please can anyone help me understand. I had a shave biopsy done of a growing mole on my chest thats what this path report is. Today i did another biopsy of my lymph node under my arm waiting on those results. My lymph node is indeed abnormal via ultrasound w/ a 5.8 cm mass.



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Leslie'sHusband's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 3/23/2015 - 9:28pm
Replies by: JoshF, Jubes, yazziemac

It's been a while since I've even been on this forum, let alone post, so I thought I'd post an update.  For those who may not remember, my wife Leslie was diagnosed with melanoma (ended up being 3b) on her left thigh, with the sentinal lymph node testing positive in Feb of '14.  After three surgeries, the last being a complete lymph node dissection of the left groin area done at Duke Cancer Center in April '14, she's doing well.  None of the additional nodes removed tested positive.  She had CT scans done in September '14, and last week, at Duke.  Both were clear, with no evidence of melanoma.  There is a lesion on her liver that caused a little concern back in September, but it was determined to be benign after a closer MRI of the area.  The docs said it is likely caused by hormones in birth control pills and is very common, nothing to be concerned about.  That lesion was unchanged in last weeks scan.  We will be heading to Duke every 6 months for further scans for at least the next four years.  I'm guessing that this means 1 year NED.


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barbudo2005's picture
Replies 11
Last reply 3/26/2015 - 9:13pm
Replies by: Squash, barbudo2005, arthurjedi007, Anonymous

Is there a healthy way I can gain weight?

Squash - (2/28/2015 - 7:08pm)

You can eat all the food you like but if you have faulty protein metabolism which is common in cancer patients then you wont put on weight.

You need to start taking digestive enzymes e.g. porcine pancreatic enzymes and you need to take high doses of them.

I couldnt put on any weight after losing 10kgs and going from 84kgs to 73kgs. In the last three months without changing diet i have put back on 6kgs taking high doses of pancreatic enzymes. I take 60 a day. 10 caps 1 hour before meals and 10 caps in between meals.


Hi, Squash

I am on zelboraf for 12 months and I've lost 12 kilos. I went from 73 to 61, thats 1 kilo for month!!!!

I read your post and it make a lot of sense. If you read what is Zelboraf is B-Raf enzyme inhibitor  so I think it may inhibits all kinds of enzymes.

You say you take 10 caps. What does that mean in terms of units of lipase? For example, Creon 10000 has 10000 units of lipase.

Thank you!

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yazziemac's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 3/23/2015 - 10:48am

Hi all

I've posted several times previously--my husband is Stage 4, multiple mets, currently on Yervoy.  I am struggling severely with not knowing the future.  I don't expect anyone here to tell me what the future holds, because no one knows!  But, if I could have any help in how to  manage this "land of limbo", I would really appreciate it.  I try to live one day at a time, but I'm finding it very hard.  Does Pete (my husband) have only months to live? 2 years?  5 years?  No one knows...But I have to make decisions about my career (I recently decided to take a leave from my job), and I feel the need to wrap my head around what my life is going to be like going forward.  But, it seems that I can't do that because it's a big grey area (that's how Canadians spell grey, haha).  Are these treatments "buying time" and that's the best we can hope for?  Is there a chance this cancer could be cured?  What are we really and honestly dealing with??  These are the questions that I go to sleep with and wake up with--no answers to be found.  Thanks for any insight on this!


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Andiuta's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 3/23/2015 - 7:43am
Replies by: Andiuta, ldub, _Paul_, SABKLYN

Hello! I have a mole that has become raised (it was flat before) and has two shades of brown and also 2 black spots. I noticed these changes one year ago but I didn't get to go to a doctor. I am really worried but at the same time I am afraid to go and get diagnosed. Is there anyone here that had the same symptoms and was diagnosed with melanoma?


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ecc26's picture
Replies 10
Last reply 3/23/2015 - 8:32am

Hello everyone. 

I have not been around for a while as work has really occupied every waking second (when I'm not in the doctor's office). Mat contacted me to see how I was doing and suggested I post an update though. 

For those who don't know me, I was diagnosed in 2011 as a stage IIIb, who progressed to stage IV in 2012. I've been through the full year of interferon, a full course of IL-2, a full course of Ipi (combined with Leukine), whole brain radiation, 2 rounds of SRS, and the BRAF/MEK combo- all of which failed miserably. Last June I was accepted into the Merk PD-1 (now Keytruda) expanded access program. Things went well until September when they found a mass that had "grown" rapidly in just a couple of months. One craniotomy later the results were that it was all dead tumor, and Keytruda had gotten FDA approval so we picked up where we left off with the infusions but happily at our home office instead of 6 hrs away. I have been getting the regular 3 week injections and scans every 4th dose since then. 

For the most part, everything was showing relatively steady improvement (inside the brain and out) until the last 2 scans where things just appeared stable. I had another round of scans this past week and things are shrinking again. In the brain I'm down from multiple masses to just one that's almost invisible, in my body I'm down from over 30 mets to just 4 that are still visible and those have shrunk by nearly 2/3 since starting the infusions last June. Everyone seems amazed by what this drug has been able to do for me. One of the best parts is that I have few to now side effects and am able to live my life however I want to.

One day, I hope I can come off therapy and possibly consider having children, something my husband and I have not even dared think about until now. I don't know if it's the infusion getting into my brain or not, but something is, and I'll take it either way!

Best of luck to everyone out there fighting this battle! Keep fighting- find your way to win!


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csellers23's picture
Replies 14
Last reply 3/23/2015 - 8:35am

So 6 weeks ago my husband's scans came in. And after taf/Mel combo. Yearvoy whole brain radiation and srs the results where horrible!!!! To many brain Mets to count, cancer growing everywhere! The put him on keytruda. When we went back 3 weeks later his LDH levels went from 800 to 300. They had planned on sending us home on hospices. But the gave us the 2nd round of keytruda. Today we went back and the doc said keytruda is working in his brain. I ask him how he knows and he said because he's alive. If it wasn't working in his brain he would have died 2 weeks ago! He also said keytruda does not work one or two months like some drugs can but that now we are looking at YEARS! We went in the matter of 6 weeks from you have 3 weeks to live to years. This keytruda was our last hope. And thank God it's working!!!! People ask a lot if keytruda can cross the blood brain barrier, yes it can!!!! The doc ended out appointment saying you are no longer dying!!!! Best words ever. NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!!!! The doc is even amazed Thank God!!!


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LindaPBa's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 3/21/2015 - 11:04pm
Replies by: Anonymous

New to this board and am hoping someone can give me some reassurance. It has been a roller coaster ride since January! While I am very very thankful that this was found at Stage 0, I am very scared regarding these "atypical" cells still present in a small area.

Was diagnosed late Dec 2014 with melanoma Stage 0 left foreram and told by my dermatologist of many years not to worry, caught very early,very thin etc. I am 60 years old and otherwise in very good health.

On Jan 12 he did an excision and I thought all was resolved. Pathology rept came back showing a small amt of melanoma remaining in part of margin. On Jan 24, had a second excision...again told all s/b complete. Pathology came back showing some "atypical cells" in part of margin. He said we could :

1.use Aldara cream in the area for several weeks, 2. watch carefuilly and do nothing unless change was seen or 3 have another excision by dermatologic surgeon in his office. After much condsideration I decided the only way to be fully over this awfulness was to go for a 3rd excision. That was on March 4. Procedure went fine, healing very well, stitches out on Wed...and path report shows

"Multiple deeper sections were examined and the case was discussed with the referring physician..In blocks 6,7, and 8 only, at the black inked lateral margin only, there are increased numbers of single juntional melanocytes immediately adjacent to, and focally overlying the scar. Melan-A stain, performed w appropriate controls reveals increased junctional melanocytes w scattered pagetoid spread and follicular extension at the black inked lateral margin of these three blocks only. After discussion w the clinician, Melan A stain was performed on most of the other blocks and fails to reveal increased junctional melanocytes either overlying, adjacent to, or away from the scar. Therefor it is very unlikely that the melanocytic proliferation in blocks 6,7, and 8 represents a background change, a reaction to chronic sun exposure or a reaction to wound healing. It is likely this proliferation is residual atypical melanocytic lesion"

The surgeon has now referred me to Yale for their opinion on next step needed, if any.  Having lost a brother to cancer at 51 (multiple myeloma), I am petrified at the thought of any type of cancer. My Dad had a Stage 0 abt 20 years ago..he will soon be 85 so that calms me a bit :) 

Just don't know how worried I should be abt this. I tend to be a worrier and am trying to keep this in perspective. Want to be sure to take correct steps now so that I can move on. Thank you for any experience you can share

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BrianP's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 3/21/2015 - 9:32am
Replies by: Ed Williams


A VGEF drug (Ziv-alfibercept) in combo with pembro.  

Unfortunately It looks like any prior immunotherapy treatment is a disqualfier

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We met with the melanoma specialist yesterday.  My husband has ctage lllc resected with surgery almost 4 weeks ago.  Our dr is doing the clinical trial of nivolumab vs yervoy, 2 arm study.  Not sure which drug my husband will get.  He said this trial just started to see how it works for stage lllc.  Originally, our oncologist offered radiation and interferon and then refered to the melanoma specialist at Baylow Sammons texas oncology dallas.  After speaking with the melanoma onc yesterday, he felt interferon would not be best option and radiation would not either plu he could not perticipate in the trial if he took radiation.  The clinical trial drugs are approed by FDA for stage 4 melanoma and he said they are working on other forms of cancer as well.  Dr feels he will meet all criteria to enter trial and he signed all contract papers yesterday.  I hope this was a good choice, we are young with 2 children.  My husband works in the sun and uses sun screen but now, after being at his job for 6 years he feels he needs a job chnage in the midst of all this, im afraid for him to get a new job knowing he will start treatment soon and what boss would put up with that from a new employee.  His work is working with him now very well and all they want is him to be healed, and we hope maybe they will try to get him on other equipment in a cab to keep him out of the sun, they have worked well with keeping him out of as much sun as possible.  I feel we have a lot on our plate as all you you do on this forum.  Lastnight my husband started crying that he did't want to die.  I know you all fear that, I have hope though from reading this forum seeing all you stage 4 and 2, 5 and plus years NED.  I really need to keep talking him into getting on this forum because it has given me hope.  Any advice is much needed.  Have you been on these drugs?  What stage where you then, how long have you been NED?    

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Nell's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 3/23/2015 - 12:32pm
Replies by: Issy, arthurjedi007, Nell, Mat, rosa1

Looks very probable that I will be put on this combination soon. I am stage IV...braf+

Growths in my lungs and liver are stable since Yervoy infusions last July, but there is a node/growth in the chest wall that is increasing in size.....most likely melanoma, as this was the original site. I go back for more scans in May, and if there is a significant increase, I will start trafinlar + mekinist.  Can anyone tell me about your experience with these drugs?  The literature they gave me at the office was kind of scary.....Also, there is no mention of how long patients usually stay on these drugs.   Is there a scheduled plan?     Thanks. I love this forum!        Nell

One voice can make a song; one life can change the world.

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katie1's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 3/19/2015 - 8:25pm
Replies by: Anonymous

My husband (IIIC-11 mm amelanotic nodular melanoma) is participating in the Ipi vs Interferon adjuvant trial.  He received all the induction infusions (3mg arm) but did not receive any maitenance doses due to toxic side effects (grade 4 hypophysitis).  He had many side effects from the Ipilimumab (dermatologic, ocular, neurologic, gastro-intestinal and endocrine). All have mostly resolved except that he has permanent adrenal insufficiency.  He remains NED.  Hoping this might give hope to those who may have started the trial more recently.


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Saturn's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 3/20/2015 - 10:30pm
Replies by: Nell, Brendan, Anonymous, Marianne quinn, Gene_S, Janner

anyone who has been treated by yervoy or is currently being treated I would

like to know the side effects you have experenced





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Navy wife's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 3/21/2015 - 12:45am

My name is Tiffany and I am a wife and mother to four children. I am temporarily living with my parents while my husband is deployed.

I have atypical mole syndrome and a family history of melanoma. No melanoma yet, but I have been told to "brace myself." That being said, I have been extra vigilant with my moles...(self checks, mole mapping, routine derm appts).

Three weeks ago I gave birth to my fourth child. When I arrived home from the hospital, I did my monthly self check and noticed a new mole. The mole itself is completely unremarkable. Especially compared to my severely atypical moles. Basically saying, it does not fit any of the ABCDE criteria and is less that 2mm.

However, I am over 30 (32 to be exact). Some of my derms have said any new mole after the after of 30 warrants a biopsy... Others have said after the age of 40. Typically, I would run into the dermatology office regardless, but my husband comes home in less than a month and we are moving back to where I have a dermatology doctor. I can get a referral and visit to a temporary local derm where my parents are, but I wonder if that is totally necessary seeing as there is nothing remarkable about this mole.

I I am just curious what you all have done with new moles after the age of 30.

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sweetaugust's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 3/20/2015 - 11:09pm

Hi guys,

I am just posting this in hopes that it helps all of you that go through that scan anxiety that we know so well.  I am still on the MK-3475/Pembro/Keytruda clinical trial.  I have been on it for 2.5 years and have had great results with it. All my scans have been great since the drug started doing its I am lucky to say that my scanning anxiety has been less over the past year and a half. 

My recent scan in December showed some intestinal wall they were worried that I might be experiencing some colitis...but I was not.  And my scan a few weeks ago showed that same intestinal wall thickening, as well as what looked like intestinal wall collapsing (which is very dangerous), and some suspicious lesions in my colon.  So they were worried that perhaps the drug was hurting my intestines and that perhaps the melanoma had traveled south to my digestive system and they wanted to do a colonoscopy. 

The colonoscopy showed that everything was very healthy.  No intestinal wall thickening or collapsing and no spots.  They took several biopsies anyway to make sure...and all came back totally normal.  Diagnosis: No need for another colonoscopy for at least 10 years.  For me to hear 10 years....was such a strange feeling.  A feeling like I was a normal person without this metastatic melanoma cloud over my head.  A person that easily has 10 years to live without question.  :)

So my point is....try your best not to waste too much time stressing and worrying until you truly have all the tests back.  Our doctors are doing the best they can to help us. 

Love, health and happiness to you all, Laurie

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