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.

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MONDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients who receive a combination of low-dose interleukin-2 and retinoic acid after conventional therapy seem to live longer than those who don't get the combination.

These new study findings, slated for presentation this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago, were seen across individuals with many different forms of advanced malignancies, including breast, lung and colon cancers.

Retinoic acid is derived from vitamin A. Interleukin-2, a compound that fortifies the immune system, is approved at high doses to treat "metastatic" melanoma and kidney cancer. Metastatic means that a cancer has spread.

The study showed that "these biological compounds may work at low doses. Bigger doses are not always better," said lead author Dr. Francesco Recchia, director of the oncology department at Civilian Hospital in Avezzano, Italy.

Recchia stumbled upon the possibility of using low-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) when he switched a patient with metastatic melanoma who didn't tolerate high doses to a lower dose, and the patient had an extended response to the therapy.

This study involved 500 patients who had already responded well to chemotherapy. They had a variety of cancers, including ovarian, lung, colon, stomach, kidney, melanoma, breast and pancreatic.

Participants gave themselves the interleukin-retinoic acid duo five days a week for three weeks, then took a break of one week followed by another three weeks -- for five years or until the cancer came back.

Individuals who pursued the maintenance therapy did live longer, the researchers found. About 43 percent of breast cancer patients were alive after five years, versus an expected average survival of about only one-quarter of patients.

Similarly, about 26 percent of lung cancer patients were alive after five years versus about 4 percent expected, nearly 44 percent of those with colorectal cancer were alive as compared with about 12 percent in an average population, and 23 percent of kidney cancer patients were alive versus 11 percent expected.

After 15 years, about 33 percent of patients were alive without having had a recurrence and 37 percent overall were alive, the investigators reported.

"This regimen works by increasing immune response," Recchia explained.

In this case, immune response consisted of an increase in the number of natural killer cells, which are primed to attack tumors, and a decrease in vascular endothelial growth factor, which would normally prompt a tumor to spread.

There were no serious side effects, Recchia said, and the therapy's cost is about $300 a week.

While IL-2 activates the immune system, retinoic acid is an angiogenic agent, meaning it reduces blood supply to tumors, explained Dr. Michael Atkins, deputy director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. He was not involved with the study.

The results are "provocative," Atkins said, but one problem is that all the patients had already benefited from chemotherapy so it's unclear if they would have done well without the immune therapy, he added.

A bigger trial of patients randomly assigned to receive treatment is now starting in Siena, Italy, in breast cancer patients, Recchia said.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

For more on interleukin-2 and other biological therapies, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Francesco Recchia M.D., director, oncology department, Civilian Hospital, Avezzano, Italy; Michael Atkins, M.D., deputy director, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, D.C.; presentation, American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, March 31-April 4, 2012, Chicago

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Advocate for your own treatment.. Stage 4 Melanoma NED Surgery,Radiation, Temodar 300Mg July 2009-March 2010, then "Phase I Study of Anti-PD-1 Human Monoclonal Antibody MDX-1106 and Vaccine Therapy"

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Gene_S's picture
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Last reply 4/5/2012 - 8:54pm
Replies by: Webbie73

Mohs Most Cost-Effective Treatment for Skin Cancer

Yael Waknine

 April 3, 2012 — Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) represents the most cost-effective treatment for skin cancer, according to an article published online March 22 and in the April print issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

MMS is a method of excising a tumor and the surrounding skin with the help of a microscope, allowing the dermatologic surgeon to trace the outline of a cancerous growth, layer by layer, with exceptional accuracy. The method is associated with significant tissue sparing, resulting in smaller simpler repairs or an option to let the wound heal by secondary intention.

Investigators led by Larisa Ravitskiy, MD, from the Ohio Skin Cancer Institute at Ohio State University in Columbus, performed a cost analysis with respect to 406 tumors that were cleared with a mean of 1.6 stages (range, 1 - 8 stages). The expenses related to subsequent re-excision and reconstruction and tumor recurrence were added to the final estimate.

Results showed that MMS was the least expensive of surgical options ($805/tumor) compared with standard surgical excision (SSE) with permanent margins ($1026), SSE with frozen margins ($1200), and SSE performed in an ambulatory surgery center ($2507).

"The common misperception of MMS as an expensive option has its roots in the poorly understood bundled reimbursement of the procedure, which includes costs of surgical excision, histology preparation, and pathology," the authors write, noting the increased use of MMS in an aging population with a greater incidence of skin cancer.

In fact, the cost of MMS when adjusted for inflation (including initial exam, biopsy, and 5-year follow-up) was lower in 2009 than in 1998 ($1376 vs $1635).

The authors suggest that clinicians should be aware that MMS offers low recurrence rates; smaller defects, resulting in simpler, less-costly repairs; and overall cost efficacy.

"Once the effect of MMS on economic savings and cure rates is recognized, restrictions on the use of MMS will be lifted. The cost and value inherent in MMS rightfully prioritize it as the treatment of choice for cutaneous malignancies," the authors conclude.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


Authors and Disclosures

Yael Waknine

Yael Waknine is a freelance writer for Medscape.

Yael Waknine has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Dermatol Surg. 2012;38:585-594. Abstract

Medscape Medical News © 2012 WebMD, LLC
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Live 4 today. Thank God for all he has done for us. Looking forward to enjoying tomorrow.

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MeNDave's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 4/4/2012 - 7:56pm
Replies by: MeNDave, Anonymous

Dave decided today to wait to start IPI - and his oncologist agreed.  Khushalani believes that the new mets, although numerous, are tiny, and that he has time to see if he can get into a clinical trial.  After speaking with his mel cohorts, he agreed the anti-pd1/pdl-1s were his best bet.  Our first stop is with Dr. Ma at Roswell, who is doing the MDX-1105 trial.  This also happened to be my brother Mike's doctor when he was still with us.  I liked the way he treated my brother (who was borderline mentally handicapped), who had absolutely no hope, but tried everything he could, knowing Mike wanted to keep trying.  Then on Thursday of next week we travel to University of Pitt's Hillman Cancer Center to see Dr. Tahrini, to see if they have anything to offer him.  Either way, we walked out of this appointment with some hope - and that can go along way.

I know how the studies on the 1106 are going, but is anybody doing the 1105?

Please keep your fingers crossed -


Don't ever, EVER, give up!

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vladimir3d's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 4/4/2012 - 7:25pm
Replies by: Janner, vladimir3d

I just had a full skin check done last month, everything came out looking well.  Today i noticed on my left shoulder something that i can only describe a pimple or clogged sebaceous gland next to a mole.  Mole itself is even in color but a bit distorted due to obvious pimple like pathology in the area.  Should i have it checked out asap or apply neosporin and wait a few days?

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H555's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 4/5/2012 - 7:53pm

My primary was in 1995, after 10 years of dermatologist screenings (and no recurrences) i never gave it another thought. Last spring i found a swollen lymph node near my groin and my PC had the good foresight to have scans run. June 30th, same day I retired, i had 17 lymph nodes removed from my right inguinal area and upper thigh on my right leg. only one was malignant but there was extension outside the node. i was tested for the BRAF mutation and i haveit. I did radiation in september and then 10 Interferon IV treatments in November and my oncologist and i both agreed after 3 weeks it was taking too much of a toll on my body, by the 10th treatment i couldn't force more than a couple of glasses of water down a day.


about two weeks ago I developed a dry cough, after a week of that my PC (again) sent me right out for a chest xray and a wet read, came back as multiple masses/nodules in my lungs. saw my medical oncologist two days later and he set me up with Zelboraf, then had my radiation oncologists (who's done IGRT for prostate cancer for me and high dose radation on the area where my lymph nodes were removed last september). The top lobe of my left lung is partially collapsed and i have one node that's about 3 centimeters blocking an airway. I'm starting radiation today for that node to improve my breathing. I haven't gotten a call from the speciality pharamacy yet, yesterday my medical oncologist said he'd "lean on them" - i'm guessing teh hold up is because I have double coverage (thank God i kept my health insureance going after i retired).


I'll post more as this plays out. I'm optimistic about the Zelboraf and know there are several other drugs available if my cancer becomes resistant. sure not how i envisioned retirement tho. if you pray, i'd sure be grateful for prayers. this has stunned my whole family - which has since day one declared we're all in this together. I have a great support system, am in otherwise good health, have lots to look forward to, including a trip to Kenya this summer to visit our youngest son who's in the Peace Corps in Kenya. thank you.

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Lisa - Aust's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 4/4/2012 - 4:23pm
Replies by: Jeff's Mom

Hi Everyone,

My partner Craig is currently on the BRAF trial and we found out today that after 60 weeks he is still responding and his scans are clear. We feel so lucky that he has had such good success. I know there are a few out there who have recently started BRAF so I just wanted to share the news.

All the best to everyone out there

Lisa xx

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AnnaBanana30's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 4/17/2012 - 11:07pm
Replies by: imissmommy2003

I just had to share this...I just ordered a bunch of awarness bracelets and plan to sell them to everyone I know for $5 a piece and give all the proceeds to research.

I thought of this idea for the bracelet the other day. I ordered a white bracelet to represent pale skin. Then in big black writing I put Mela-NO-MORE!! and two black Melanoma awarness ribbons on either side.

On the back side I put a link to this website

I am really hoping to raise some money for research and also spread awarness around my group of friends and our community. I live on the lake and have never gone out in the sun (red hair and freckles) but ALL my friends do and I'm really hoping the current situation with my dad and myself will hep them realize they need to be careful and get checked!

I just placed my order and had to share.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day.


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AnnaBanana30's picture
Replies 10
Last reply 5/13/2012 - 9:03pm

The title says it all. I am having such a hard time lately with all of this.

My dad is stage IV and is not doing well at all. He did three rounds of Temodar in the fall and it was working pretty well and shrinking his tumors and then all of the sudden it stopped working. His doctor moved him onto Yervoy or IPI...I can't remember how to spell it but I think it's ipilimumab? He's done two rounds and is moving onto his third next week. He gets a scan tomorrow to see if it's working at all but with the way he's been feeling and acting I'm having a hard time hoping that it's working at all! He's in so much pain and can't hold anything down. He has a large tumor under his left arm and it's getting bigger every day. This all just breaks my heart.

I on the other hand had a mole removed in December that came back as melanoma in situ. Had another removed off my back in February that also came back as melanom in situ. Needless to say I am terrified. Has anyone had melanoma in situ? I just had a little boy this past August and I desperately want to be here to watch him grow up. I am so scared that what is happening to my dad will be me in a few years. I'm going to the dermatologist constantly and trying to stay on top of this as much as I can! My husband checks me over a couple of times a week and we are starting to take pictures. I just am so paranoid now about everything. I swear I feel like under my left arm (where my dad's big tumor is) is swollen and I freak out all the time and convince myself that I have a huge tumor just like my dad. Although I'm pretty sure this can't be the case as I only had stage 0.

Does anyone have any advice or any words of wisdom for me? I am so scared. I hate melanoma. I intend to spend the rest of my life spreading the word about this devestating disease.

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 4/4/2012 - 12:08pm
Replies by: Anonymous, Janner

I have a friend who is a breast cancer survivor.  She said it was very important not to cut through the tumor, or it can spread the cells.  is this the same with an early stage melanoma?  It seems it would spread it, wouldn't it?  Online I have read numerous times where melanoma has margins involved or the tumor was only partially biopsied.  I worry that someday they may say this does indeed spread the tumor. 

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I have a friend who is a breast cancer survivor.  She said it was very important not to cut through the tumor, or it can spread the cells.  is this the same with an early stage melanoma?  It seems it would spread it, wouldn't it?  Online I have read numerous times where melanoma has margins involved or the tumor was only partially biopsied.  I worry that someday they may say this does indeed spread the tumor. 

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bikerwife's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 4/4/2012 - 9:52pm

We finished ippi march 26. Went in for a follow up from gamma knife. They treated 5 small lesions on brain they said scan in 6 weeks and it should show shrinkeage. They also wanted to look at the growths one under arn is size of a quarter. Thought that was it went home. Got a call today and they have consulted with our dr and they want to do radiation with gamma under arm. Said a new study shows radiation boost the tumors and makes them regress faster. I'm so confused at first they said 10 and know only 5. I'm so confused but lynn says we will just pray about it. Whatever God brings us to he will take us through. God bless each of you and thanks for listening.

What God leads u to he will. Lead you through

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Does anyone know someone that has had numerous dysplastic nevi and no melanoma?

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Does anyone know someone that has had numerous dysplastic nevi and no melanoma?

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jrjrjr's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 4/3/2012 - 9:16pm
Replies by: Janner


I have had numerous dysplastic nevi removed.

I am trying to determine if I have FAMM or dysplastic nevi syndrome.

Does anyone have FAMM or dysplastic nevi syndrome?
Can you share how you were recognized with the syndrome?
Did your dermatologist recognize it?  Did your oncologist?   Did your genetic counselor?
What is your understanding of the criteria for FAMM or dysplastic nevi syndrome?
At what age where you diagnosed?

Thank you.


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Advocate for your own treatment.. Stage 4 Melanoma NED Surgery,Radiation, Temodar 300Mg July 2009-March 2010, then "Phase I Study of Anti-PD-1 Human Monoclonal Antibody MDX-1106 and Vaccine Therapy"

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