Staging question

Posted By
7/31/2014 7:05pm
Replies: 6

If a sentinel biopsy is done and there is no Melanoma, and then it returns years later in the lymph nodes does this mean you are stage 4?

vlmd1986 - (7/31/2014 - 8:53pm)

Hi there, 

If the melanoma has returned to the original lymph node basin (the same group of lymph nodes where the sentinel node was taken from), it is my understanding that this is still Stage III (in the absence of distant sites of metastasis). But you should, of course, rely on your physician for final staging information!


Hope this helps,


Anonymous - (8/1/2014 - 1:14pm)

This is my understanding also. The lymph node involved was from the original site of sentinel node taken.

originally there were two sentinel nodes taken, one from groin and one from left axilla. My melanoma is on mid back. However my doctor is telling me I am stage 4, either way melanoma sucks. I am scheduled for another scan next week before starting treatment.

thank you for your input.

Janner - (8/1/2014 - 2:34pm)

I'm going to agree with you and the other poster, not your doc.  LOCAL basin is stage III.  DISTANT basin is stage IV.  If this is in the same basin as the sentinel node, then that is LOCAL to me.  Is the doc a melanoma specialist?  Everything about stage III is "there is no distant spread".  And as long as you fit that category, you are stage III.  As for your other comment, yes - either way - melanoma sucks.  We all wholeheartedly agree with that one!

Anonymous - (8/2/2014 - 4:05am)

Let them call you stage IV, more treatment options are available in most countries.

Anonymous - (8/2/2014 - 11:33am)

That is what I thought also let them call it Stage IV. This is not a melanoma specialist I am at the mercy of my insurance right now. The original melanoma was nodular with a mitotic rate of 15 and the recurrence was 7 months. 

Anonymous - (8/3/2014 - 4:07am)

Melanoma does indeed suck! If your MD is not a Melanoma Specialist ask him/her why they don't refer you to one! I have a very limited HMO and as soon as my diagnosis was confirmed all of my "in-network" doctors informed the insurance company that a major cancer center, with world renowned surgeons and melanoma specialists, should be taking care of me. Get the "local" physicians to convince the insurance company you need a real specialist! Once my local doctors started referring me to UCLA things got moving. Learn how the referral process works and advocate for yourself! I'm stage III B/C (unknown primary) and had surgery at UCLA and am being seen there by one of the top Melanoma specialists (I'm in a drug trial).  Good luck, and God Bless you. Find and keep your faith!