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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Frannie55's picture
Replies 10
Last reply 10/21/2010 - 5:36pm

Just a quick Hooray! I am stage IV...last procedure was a Radiofrequency ablation of my liver to get 4 mets. I was so sure this would not be a good scan, but with the prayers from so many people and the immune building supplements I am NED.  Just wanted to pass on some hope for the newbies.

Frannie in West Michigan

Believe that you can or believe that you can't. Either way, you are right. - H. Ford

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Rebecca and Bob's picture
Replies 10
Last reply 10/22/2010 - 1:57pm

MRI and CTSCANS clear.  15 months NED hoping to keep hearing that news. Still on every 2 month but they said we can come back mid - January after the holidays... So happy, so happy.

Thanks everyone on this board for always being there!



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ShariC's picture
Replies 13
Last reply 2/28/2011 - 6:09pm

Hi Everybody - Thanks for being part of such a terrific resource!  I've been reading for a month, or so, and now am hoping to get some advice:  Here's my diagnosis and treatment history:

- I was diagnosed in Mid-July 2010 with Stage IIIb Melanoma after I found a lump in my armpit (it was the enlarged lymph node).  After surgery - complete axillary dissection (22 nodes taken, 1 macromets, 1 micro), my pathology came back as T4aN2bM0 - Stage IIIb. 

- I was told by the local oncologist that he would not recommend interferon and that I should monitor and wait.  I requested to be referred to a specialist.  I was referred to the Mayo Clinic.

- Dr. McWilliams at the Mayo Clinic recommended Luekine (GM-CSF) - a year.  Two weeks on and two weeks off.  He also recommended local radiation treatments to the axillary region.  (I've completed this radiation treatment but haven't started the Luekine, yet.

- Last week, I saw Dr. Rene Gonzales at the University of Colorado Cancer Center as a second opinion.  He recommended Bio-Chemotherapy.  A treatment that includes 5 days in the hospital receiving the following:  IL-2, Interferon, Dacarbanize (DTIC), Cisplatin, and Vinplastine. 

Here's my line of questioning:  I understand that this is fairly aggressive treatment and is unusual for Stage III.  Has anybody gone through something like this?  Are any other major cancer centers providing this kind of treatment for Stage III resected Melanoma?  I like the idea that it could increase my chances for disease-free survival (don't we all!) - he says up to 75%.  But, is this unrealistic?  Also, would this mean that if it does progress to Stage IV that I wouldn't be able to do this treatment?  Hmmm? 

Also...I know that I will just have to eventually (as my Doctor says) "settle on one doctor and trust the treatment path"...I just want to make sure I'm ON the right path! 

Thanks for any and all advice!

- Shari

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EricNJill's picture
Replies 19
Last reply 10/22/2010 - 8:12pm

Due to progression and complications during our stay for a 2nd dose of Intralymphatic Vaccine, we are stopping treatment and searching for something new.  This was at the advice of professionals.  Eric has tested positive for BRAF and they are encouraging we find a trial for BRAF but since all Eric's tumors are either vascular and sub-cutaneous we are concerned about the return of melanoma after the 8-9 months with doing PLX4032. 

He's done the following treatments:

HD Interferon & LD Interferon

Clinical Trial of Abraxane, Avastin & Carboplatin

HD IL-2 (44 doses)

Clinical Trial - Dendric Cell Vaccine

Clinical Trial - Intralymphatic Vaccine

Does anyone have advice on what our next step should be? 

Thanks, Jill & Eric in OH


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Wendi Lynn's picture
Replies 13
Last reply 10/20/2010 - 4:28pm

Here is my background:

Mole removed and diaginosed as MM on 5/27.  WLE on 6/15.  FNB for enlarged lymph node on 9/1 positive for MM.  PET scan on 9/13, questionable for lymph nodes under arm.  No further testing done.  Modified left neck dissection - 32 lymph nodes removed on 9/22 - only one positive for MM. 

Today I return to my oncologist for my 2nd meeting with him (met with him first on 7/1).  He is not a melanoma specialist and honestly I'm not sure how much experience he has with it at all.  I'm wondering what questions I should be prepared with today.  I've read here that people take alot more tests than I've had so I'm not sure if I should be requesting them (blood, brain scan, CAT scan).  When I did meet with him the first time, he did say that if the lymph node came back positive that we would do Interferon. 

What are the key things I need to ask for now?  The doctors, so far, have not been very willing to volunteer info or tests (I'm assuming because I have HMO insurance), so I'd like to be prepared to ask for those things up front.

Thank you!!!


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makedoandmend's picture
Replies 12
Last reply 10/28/2010 - 11:42am

For those that don't know I was diagnosed with an ulcerated malignant melanoma with a breslow depth of 9mm in early sept. It was nodular melanoma and there was a satellite lesion below/to the side.  The primary was removed during biopsy by the derm. Went to oncologist who schedule wle and snb.  Pet Scan came back with 4 small nodules on my lung. Those didn't light up but we are thinking they are from a nasty bout of pnemonia I had a year and a half ago.  The onc said it is more likely scar tissue than mel.  Nothing lit up anywhere, including the groin. I was really psyched about that because I thought for sure it travedled to the groin.    WLE excision went well, margins are clear. Just have a chunk of my calf missing, no big deal.  Skin graph taken from my other thigh so far so good.  They did a Sentinal Node Biopsy on my right groin.  Took ten nodes.  1 out of 10 were positive there was a mitotic rate of 4/mm2.  Not really sure what that means.  I now am scheduling another surgery on the groin and they are going to remove all of the remaining nodes.  So at this point I believe that I am stage IIIC but not sure.  My concern is that since the groin didn't light up on the PET, what else is there that didn't light up.  My surgeion mentioned Lymphedema and putting some drains in the groin.  I had one oncologist offer interferron or an adjuvant ipi trial 50/50 placebo.  I had a second opinion set up for Oct 21st  at sloan but have to push that back until after the surg.  I was just wondering if anyone can give me some insight on where I am and where I need to be.  I guess maybe it just depends on how many nodes come back positive after the full dissection.  I just feel like I am not being agressive enough.   I have been reading a lot about boosting the immune system and I am pretty excited about this since I would like  to give my immune system the best shot in this fight.  So besides exercising which I know is key are there any specific immune system diets or immune system supplement/vitamin regimens that people are doing?  Any imput on what I should be eating/taking would be appreciated.  Thakns to anyone who posts here. I love this board. I feel like its such a great weapon to have in this fight. 


pat on li

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donswife's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 10/20/2010 - 6:16pm

Hello - we are currently in the process of comparing IL-2 versus MEK inhibitor as a treatment for my husbands melanoma. He had tumours on his leg and had isolated limb perfusion and infusions. Now the cancer has spread to a few tumours located in his abodomen. Does anyone have any experience with IL-2? We are currently receiving conflicting advice from the US v our Canadian doctors. thank you, donswife.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

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Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

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Linda/Kentucky's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 10/18/2010 - 9:52pm
Replies by: Linda/Kentucky, SusanE, LynnLuc, Lori C, Anonymous

Hello everyone

My husband stage IV with "innumerable" mets to liver and lung as well as some other areas of his body are again, like so many of you, in limbo what treatment to do next.  We have an appointment Thurs. with our oncologist at Vandy to give us some guidance and advice.  This is a short rundown so far.  Nov. 09 diagnosed with melanoma behind right ear.  Sent to Vandy was scheduled for radical neck but cancelled following scans showing mets to bilateral femurs.  Took 2 rounds of high dose IL-2.  Results were increased mets to lung and liver.  Sent to Knox. Tenn. for Ipi compassionate trial in April.  Had kind of a tough time throughout that with lots of fatigue and aches.  Scans at 12 weeks showed no new mets but increased size of mets.  So goes the "12 week waiting period"  Scan results on Oct. 6th showed strong progression everywhere.  So far he has been lucky (blessed) no brain mets especially since original spot was behind ear on mastoid bone.  So here we are now back to square one and nothing up to this point has even began to stop this ugly beast......It is so discouraging to keep hearing bad news EVERYTIME we go to the Dr. 

Anybody with ANY ideas?  I have researched till my brain is fried.  Were kind of looking at the Novalis radiation which can be used on lungs & liver but.... he may have tooo many mets to that area,  We also thought about some type of chemo along with this.  I would REALLY like to be able to do the AntiPD-1 but due to taking Ipi we are disqualified. So anybody who is thinking about Ipi consider (when available) this tx. first.  I have heard Temodar, Taxol/Carboplatin and don't know if he would be candidate for Gleevac? 

Thanks for any advice or encouragement or paryers or whatever your willing to give..........



I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me! Phillipians 4:13

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Rebecca and Bob's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 10/18/2010 - 10:24pm

Hi all,

It's hard to believe it's been two months already. My husband Bob has been doing well but he's up at NIH today getting his scans. We go tomorrow to get the results. I try to remind myself that scans are good and to be positive, but I have to admit I hate sitting in little rooms waiting.  Anyone who doesn't know our situation Bob started out as Stage III in January 2007, before our youngest son turned one. Then he progressed to Stage IV on March 2008. In April 2008 he started IL-2. It's been 15 months since his intestinal surgery for mets and I'm just praying he is still NED. 

Looking for any prayers or good thoughts for some good news tomorrow. Thanks everyone for always being there.



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SandraDee's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 10/18/2010 - 9:28pm

Hi MPIP friends:

Again, this is Sandy - Buffalo, stage IV and battling for the past 3 1/2 years.

To recap, mel has traveled now to my small intestine (has been in lung since original dx).  I am anticipating surgery THIS WEEK for sm. intestine, as the symptoms have been constant....fever, pain, and now 4 sub-q's, all of which have "popped up" in the last 2 weeks.  Darvasat is my new "best friend", every 4 hours.  Otherwise, I am flat out on the couch.

After having the capsule endocscopy canceled late last month, I did then go onto having an upper GI series and upper GI scope.  Both confirmed a "large mass" on the intestine.  This wasn't enough to prompt immediate surgery, and I've been held off much longer than I would have prefered.  Last week I was told that the #1 surgeon could not slot me in until 10/27....I couldn't fathom letting it go that much longer.  I will "see" another surgeon at the same facility tomorrow (very highly recommended), and am hoping and praying for surgery on Tuesday.  I have been told that I should have no false hope....that the surgery alone will most likely NOT relieve my symptoms.  It WILL, however, put an end to my hemoglobin being in the 7-9 range, which is very exhausting.  I've had 6 units of blood transfused thus far.

My struggle (well, the hardest 1) is in actually waking up and wondering if there are any new sub-q's, or if the ones present have grown overnight, which they tend to do.  It's so hard to even want to look and feel my body, for fear of what I will find each day.  Mentally, I keep telling myself that at least they are popping up, and not traveling to yet another organ.  But, when you can see what's happening on the outside, it's hard to think the same isn't happening on the inside. 

I am scheduled for a C Scan tomorrow afternoon, and a PET in the next few weeks.  Do I even want to know the results of my CScan prior to my surgery, or will it just bring me more anxiety? 

I am anticipating getting through surgery, having my blood work get back in order, and then proceeding with a systemic treatment.  My thought is Temodar ASAP after surgery and then ipi just as soon as I get the green light.  Of course, the intestinal issue needs to be 100% resolved before I could begin the ipi.  I am also awaiting test results of BRAF.  BRAF of course  has some great results, but the return with a vengence aspect doesn't set well with me.

So, what am I looking for here?  Prayers are so appreciated, of course, as are your opinions.  I'm telling you, Amy Busby is my rock right now.  To watch her fight on and on is simply amazing.  I know it has a lot to do with her strong faith.

Blessings to all of you! 

Sandy - Buffalo

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Jim M.'s picture
Replies 4
Last reply 10/20/2010 - 1:03am

Hi everyone,

 I've been on hydrocortisone as a hormone replacement for 2 years (due to the Ipi side effect of swelling of the pituitary gland). I decided to have a bone density scan done. The results showed that my spine is on the borderline for osteoporosis. They also showed my leg bones were slightly better in the caution zone. Wow, that is a wake up call. I'm only 53. Two different doctors said the hydrocortisone leads to bone loss and my onc said long term use can certainly cause it. My primary doc. prescribes Alendronate. Reading the cautions it says Alendronate can cause jaw problems in some patients. The risk may be greater for those with cancer, using steroids, etc.

 I will see my endocrinologist at Moffitt in a week. I REALLY want to get off hydrocortisone. I tried twice, unsuccessfully. The second time it was a slow taper. Each time I had nausea and had to resume the normal dose. My hormone levels weren't increasing either. I tried calcium tablets but so far I haven't been able to tolerate them. I know a test is to drop a pill in water and see if it dissolves within 30 minutes. I'm really going to make an effort to exercise 5-6 days a week with some upper body strength exercises.

 I'd really like your advice, suggestions and experience on this topic.

 Thank you and God Bless,

 Jim M.

 Stage 3C



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Little worried Lauren has posted for awhile. Anyone know how Jenna is doing??

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Jerry from Cape Cod's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 10/18/2010 - 3:16pm

Just wondering if anyone from the forums will be attending.  I noticed they changed the venue to a conference room.

Jerry from Cape Cod

It's about kickin' Melanoma's butt! "Meh. Get on with it. Do not feed rabid monkeys. To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another." in memory of NicOz

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skysar's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 10/20/2010 - 2:09pm

I am going to have my 3rd treatment this week.  Leaving for MDA tomorrow for scans.  We are still going thru with the scans even tho I only had the Temador for the 2nd treatment due to a rash I developed.  Noticed mainly nausea, headache, low grade temperature.  We will see what this treatment brings.  My white cell count is low as well as the neutrophils.  Also my eisonophils are high...maybe due to the rash, bronchitis.




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