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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LynnLuc's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 11/29/2010 - 11:09pm

I am stage 4 NED...I was told I would always be considered stage 4 and would not regress to lesser that true- even though I have no disease at this point? I was told it's the distance it travels and not how "bad" you are...Just wondering...anyone know?? 

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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I saw this article posted onthe  Dana Farber site today (


Researchers shine light on how some melanoma tumors evade drug treatment

Findings pinpoint a critical gene involved in melanoma growth and provide a framework for discovering ways to tackle cancer drug resistance

The past year has brought to light both the promise and the frustration of developing new drugs to treat melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Early clinical tests of a candidate drug aimed at a crucial cancer-causing gene revealed impressive results in patients whose cancers resisted all currently available treatments.

Unfortunately, those effects proved short-lived, as the tumors invariably returned a few months later, able to withstand the same drug to which they first succumbed. Adding to the disappointment, the reasons behind these relapses were unclear.

Now, a research team led by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT has unearthed one of the key players behind such drug resistance.

Published in the November 25 issue of the journal Nature, the researchers pinpoint a novel cancer gene called COT (also known as MAP3K8), and uncover the signals it uses to drive melanoma. The research underscores the gene as a new potential drug target, and also lays the foundation for a generalized approach to identify the molecular underpinnings of drug resistance in many forms of cancer.

"In melanoma as well as several other cancers, there is a critical need to understand resistance mechanisms, which will enable us to be smarter up front in designing drugs that can yield more lasting clinical responses," said senior author Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist and assistant professor at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School, and a senior associate member of the Broad Institute.

"Our work provides an unbiased method for approaching this problem not only for melanoma, but for any tumor type."

More than half of all melanoma tumors carry changes (called "mutations") in a critical gene called B-RAF. These changes not only alter the cells' genetic makeup, but also render them dependent on certain growth signals.

Recent tests of drugs that selectively exploit this dependency, known as RAF inhibitors, revealed that tumors are indeed susceptible to these inhibitors — at least initially. However, most tumors quickly evolve ways to resist the drug's effects.

To explore the basis of this drug resistance, Garraway and his colleagues applied a systematic approach involving hundreds of different proteins called kinases. They chose this class of proteins because of its critical roles in both normal and cancerous cell growth.

Garraway's team screened most of the known kinases in humans — roughly 600 in total — to pinpoint ones that enable drug-sensitive cells to become drug-resistant.

The approach was made possible by a resource created by scientists at the Broad Institute and the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana-Farber, including Jesse Boehm, William Hahn, David Hill and Marc Vidal. The resource enables hundreds of proteins to be individually synthesized (or "expressed") in cells and studied in parallel.

From this work, the researchers identified several intriguing proteins, but one in particular stood out: a protein called COT (also known as MAP3K8). Remarkably, the function of this protein had not been previously implicated in human cancers.

Despite the novelty of the result, it was not entirely surprising, since COT is known to trigger the same types of signals within cells as B-RAF. (These signals act together in a cascade known as the MAP kinase pathway.)

While their initial findings were noteworthy, Garraway and his co-workers sought additional proof of the role of COT in melanoma drug resistance. They analyzed human cancer cells, searching for ones that exhibit B-RAF mutations as well as elevated COT levels.

The scientists successfully identified such "double positive" cells and further showed that the cells are indeed resistant to the effects of the RAF inhibitor.

"These were enticing results, but the gold standard for showing that something is truly relevant is to examine samples from melanoma patients," said Garraway.

Such samples can be hard to come by. They must be collected fresh from patients both before and after drug treatment. Moreover, these pre- and post- treatment samples should be isolated not just from the same patient but also from the same tumor.

Garraway and his colleagues were fortunate to obtain three such samples for analysis, thanks to their clinical collaborators led by Keith Flaherty and Jennifer Wargo at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In two out of three cases, COT gene levels became elevated following RAF inhibitor treatment or the development of drug resistance. In other cases, high levels of COT protein were evident in tissue from patients whose tumors returned or relapsed following drug treatment.

"Although we need to extend these results to larger numbers of samples, this is tantalizing clinical evidence that COT plays a role in at least some relapsing melanomas," added Garraway.

One of the critical applications of this work is to identify drugs that can be used to overcome RAF inhibitor resistance.

The findings of the Nature paper suggest that a combination of therapies directed against the MAP kinase pathway — the pathway in which both B-RAF and COT are known to act — could prove effective.

"We have no doubt that other resistance mechanisms are also going to be important in B-RAF mutant melanoma," said Garraway, "but by taking a systematic approach, we should be able to find them."

Media Contact

Robbin Ray
(617) 632-4090 

Luke 1:37

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Doug-Pepper's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 11/29/2010 - 7:10pm

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to post their journey! I found this site several weeks ago. My husband (Doug) had a WLE on his back with clear margins. SNB came back with melanoma in one node. They removed the rest under his right arm. All clear. His Dr. suggested interfuron. He is sending us to Vanderbilt for a second opinion.  His pet scan & mri came back normal. We have heard that the side effects of the drug are horrible. We have started juicing in the mornings & have added several supplements, along with a much healthier diet. We are cutting out preservatives & trying to go more natural. Any advice on further treatments/ interfuron?  Thanks so much, Pepper

"God is our refuge & strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

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davekarrie's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 11/29/2010 - 3:12pm

Just got back from the Mayo clinic in Rochester, and I highly recommend Dr. Brewer (dermatologist) and Dr. Donahue (surgeon) for anyone in this area. I had a melonoma at 1.5mm and Clarks level 4 and just had the WLE and SNLB and intial results came back negative. The Dr. said more testing will be done early this week and hopefully that all comes back negative.  Does anyone know why an initial result could be negative and later tests positive. He had to take 3 lymph nodes under my right and left arms, and it is very painful but getting a bit better each day. hopefully we got it all and the care at the Mayo clinic I highly recommend. thanks and good luck to all.

Live life to the fullest and enjoy each day!

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We are putting together an educational piece for caregivers of melanoma patients and would like your feedback.  Whether you are a patient with some words of wisdom for caregivers, or a caregiver yourself, we'd like to hear from you.  What are some of the most important pieces of advice that you could give a caregiver?  What helped you?  What didn't help you?  Are there resources you know about or wish you had known about?  Etc...we really just want anything that you think could help another caregiver.

We will use this information in combination with a caregiver survey that was done by an outside company called Navigating Cancer.  They have been willing to share their results with us but we thought getting your opinion would be even more beneficial.  Thank you all in advance for your intuitive thoughts and opinions.  They are truly appreciated!   


Shelby - MRF

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I urge everyone who wants to see changes in their own indoor tanning laws to write in and support this initiative; I know from first hand experience that Australia is referenced when other areas are struggling to make changes. For example, in Canada, the federally funded Canadian Partnership Against Cancer recently commissioned a study titled The Economic Burden of Skin Cancer in Canada.   In it the long established (and aggressive) Australian SunSmart program was used to calculate cost savings. The direct and indirect costs avoided during a twenty eight-year modelling period were estimated to be two point twelve billion dollars, or 7.8 times the cost of prevention.

For more than a decade the Canadian government has spent tax dollars educating school children about the dangers of ultra violet overexposure. When contacted, the Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau advised me their Sunsmart program has sent out some eighteen thousand classroom kits and reached approximately five hundred and fifty thousand students over the years. Clearly education is not enough. It alone is not decreasing the health care burden. Nor the human carnage. It certainly didn’t keep my teens out of the salons; it took their mother's melanoma diagnosis to do that.  

This may sound like a rant and I guess it is, but I believe in putting this stuff here so others who come behind me looking to make changes might find a little extra ammo:) 

thanks, linda (our politicians in Victoria BC vote on tanning bylaws Dec 8th!!) 


Proposed amendments to the Radiation Control Regulation 2003

The New South Wales Government proposes amendments to the Radiation Control Regulation 2003 to strengthen existing controls on the use of ultraviolet tanning units and mitigate the harmful effects associated with the use of commercial UV tanning units used for cosmetic purposes.

The Regulation currently prohibits the use of commercial cosmetic UV tanning units by persons under the age of 18 years and by persons with Skin Photo Type 1, and contains other rules for persons who carry on solaria businesses and persons who operate tanning units.

The Government proposes to strengthen the Regulation by:

  • increasing the minimum age at which a person may be allowed to use a commercial cosmetic UV tanning unit to 25 (from 1 April 2011)
  • extending the range of persons excluded from using a tanning unit from persons with Skin Photo Type 1 up to Skin Photo Type 2 (from 1 April 2011)
  • increasing the minimum age at which a person may be allowed to use a commercial cosmetic UV tanning unit to 30 years (from 1 August 2011).

Announcement by Minister for Climate Change and the Environment.

DECCW is seeking your comments on the proposal.

Please provide any written comments by 21 January 2011 to:
Manager Hazardous Materials and Radiation
Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water
PO Box A290

or email to:


All feedback received will be considered and taken into account in the review process. If you have any enquiries regarding the proposal, please contact the radiation line at DECCW on (02) 9995 5959.

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Melanoma Mom's picture
Replies 13
Last reply 11/29/2010 - 6:24am

Is doing genomic hybridization and analysis "standard" practice these days for melanoma patients?

If so, are there locations that are more skilled at performing the tests? From my understanding, Boris Bastian is a pioneer in this field, but because of his recent move from UCSF to Sloan Kettering, his lab is not yet prepared to do the testing. He suggested that we seek advice from his prior colleagues at UCSF.

Josiah's pathology report specifically suggests that we seek testing from Sloan Kettering, but when I questioned our Oncologist, he said the testing was already being done "in-house" at Dana-Farber. But why then would the pathologist suggest we go elsewhere for the testing?? I need to pursue that particular question to get answers.

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Lori C's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 11/28/2010 - 11:08pm
"You never gave up/and you never gave in/and you never said, "No, I can't take anymore of this...."
To all of you on this board:  whatever stage you are, whatever your current health situation, please know that you are indeed a survivor and a warrior.  Will proudly described himself as a cancer survivor even though he knew - we all did - that it was extraordinarily likely he would die from the melanoma eventually.  But until his last breath, he was a cancer indeed a cancer survivor and now is - as Jenna's mother described her NED. 
There have been a lot of losses & difficult times on this board.  Those of us who are or have been immersed in this fight know well the fear, the pain, the uncertainty, the depression, the terror and the pain of this disease.  Those are very real.  But just as real is the courage, the love, the devotion, the support, the hope - of everyone, patients, caregivers, loved ones - on this journey.  You are all survivors.  You are all possessors of that beautiful definition of courage - grace under pressure. 
I wish all of you a good Thanksgiving, and I cannot tell you how thankful I have been, through the most painful year of my life, for all of your help & support.

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EricNJill's picture
Replies 17
Last reply 11/28/2010 - 10:09pm

We called in Hospice to get help with Eric.  They said that they would care for him during the 2 month waiting period before Eric can get into a Clinical Trial for having Brain Mets.  He had a Craniotomy and he's having Gamma Knife on 11/29.  They have been a huge help already, but our problem is...

Eric's Oncologist said that no clinical trial will accept Eric if he has been under Hospice Care.  Hospice said they would step out and come back in when needed but the Oncologist is afraid that the clinical trials won't take him.  How would they even know?

I'd like to keep Hospice because it's a huge help.

JillNEric in OH

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Tim--MRF's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 11/28/2010 - 9:58pm
Replies by: LynnLuc, debbieVA

On this Thanksgiving Day (for those of us in the US) we try to pause and give thanks.  In that spirit, I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone on this board.  This has been a challenging year in many ways--we have lost far too many wonderful warriors.  But we are all richer for having known them, even those we only met through the magic of electronics.  And I know that they, and countless thousands of others, lived longer and better because of the information and support they received through this community. 

Many, many of you spend hours every week replying to posts.  You offer your home email address and home number so complete strangers can reach you for more one-on-one support.  You reach out through the internet to inquire about people when they don't post in a while.

The care and compassion of people on this site are astounding, as is the wealth of knowledge and insight you offer.

I have been thinking a lot the past couple of days about Jenna, and Knute, and so many others.  Though these are sad thoughts--to know that they were taken by this nasty cancer--I cannot help but be greatful for the lessons of courage, faith, and hope we all learned from them along the journey. 

I know that holidays can be challenging, particularly for families who recently lost a loved one.  But I hope, too, that on this Thanksgiving Day we can all find reasons for gratitude in the relationships, memories, and stories we have gathered along the way.








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Anonymous's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 11/28/2010 - 9:35pm
Replies by: LynnLuc, Anonymous, Janner, dian in spokane, Lori C

I had a melanoma on my left shoulder over 1 1/2 yrs ago. It was 2A, ulcerated with a high mitosis. I had all of the suspicious moles removed then stopped going to the doctor. I figured at my age it isn't going to happen again when I only had one really large and irregular mole. So here's why I am asking today: I see nothing visible and no lumps I can find on the arm but 6 or so weeks ago it started swelling in the hand and about 8 inches above the wrist. I first noticed because I couldn't wear a watch then later had to remove my wedding ring. Now today I cannot bend the fingers.

So please tell me its something else and if it were melanoma I would see something visible.

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EricNJill's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 11/27/2010 - 9:12pm

Well we got the determination from Social Security Disability and they would not back date Eric's onset of disability because he made more then $1,000/month for the first 10 months.  So our 5 month waiting period will begin November 1st.  I have $3,000 in savings and I make around $800/month myself because I'm hourly and I'm taking off work to take him to appointments and to care for him.  His insurance is going to cost us $600/month and my house payment is $1,100/month so as you can see I'm going to be in trouble fast!

We had a friend offer to do a fundraiser for us.  I thought about setting up an account at a bank.  Does anyone have experience with this?  Do I have to start a charity?  I can't really start a non-profit charity because it's for profit right?  I'm confused about this and have no experience so I'm looking for help.  It's also been suggested that I put a "donate" button on Eric's Facebook Page so I'm looking into that, but first I want to make sure I set up everything correctly.  I would have to claim everything on my taxes as income right?

Also Eric said that he wants to set up a fund for us in the event of him passing.  He is so worried about us because he has no life insurance.  How do we go about doing that?

Sorry for so many questions, thank you for any advice.

JillNEric In OH

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EmilyandMike's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 11/27/2010 - 12:28pm

I just saw this article on my Google alert.  Looks like they are getting closer to figuring out why people build resistance to BRAF inhibitors.

Also - I have been reading a wonderful new book on the history of cancer called "The Emperor of All Maladies".  Written by an oncologist, it reads like a detective novel and has really opened my eyes.  It is not a book that talks about melanoma, but I still highly recommend it because it is very relevant to any cancer. Read the reviews for a good overview of the book:

All my best to you

Emily - wife of Mike, Stage 3a

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I had a CT scan after almost 3 years of clean scans and there is a spot on my liver.  I had a PET scan done last week  and waiting for the results...and very worried.  Any one had liver surgery?

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churchwelldana's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 11/26/2010 - 9:52am

I'm currently stage 3a, about to have surgery to remove lymph nodes. After that I will start Interferon. I live in Memphis and there are no clinical trials available here. There is one available at Vanderbilt in Nashville (4 hour drive). It involves using ipilimumab, but it is a double blind study. I'm just wondering if that would even be worth my time. I know most all of this is a wait and see kind of thing, but I'm only 32 and would like to do whatever I can to reduce my chances of it coming back. The good thing is that my PET/CT scans were clear and that I only had one sentinel node with a micrometastases.

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