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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Sorry I posted twice by mistake


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Ronskidtexx's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 1/16/2013 - 11:27pm

It has been about one year since diagnosis and surgery for my Stage IV Melanoma.  I had surgery to remove two tumors and radiation treatments to my neck. I had a radical neck dissection along with a flap of my chest.  My second tumor was removed from my ribcage area.   My quarterly scans are in:


CT SCAN of Neck--Clean

CT SCAN of Abdomen, Chest, and Pelvis--Clean

Ultrasound of Neck--Clean

MRI of Brain--Clean


When initially told I may live a year, pre-surgery, miracles continue to happen.  Don't ever give up.  Don't read all the bad news on the internet.  Everyone's body is different.  I am currently on no meds.  I will continue the fight and I feel for everyone that is going through this horrible disease and experiencing much worse effects. 



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Anonymous's picture
Replies 0

I had a small, new mole on my ear removed via punch biopsy a couple of weeks back.  The biopsy came back as severely atypical - I have requested the pathology report, but have not received it yet.  My understanding is that in addition to being atypical, they did not obtain clear margins on the original biopsy.  My dermatologist referred me to a plastic surgeon for removal of the remaining abnormal cells plus a margin, but my consultation with her is still a couple weeks off and I am driving myself a little crazy with the as yet unanswered questions.

I know that severely atypical does not equal melanoma; that histologically, it's really close, but not quite.  Can anyone point me to the results of research studies on how often severely atypical moles do transform into melanoma?  I know that 5 mm margins are generally recommended for severely atypical lesions, but I am concerned about how much of my ear that is.  It seems like an aggressive treatment, and I am trying to understand what the treatment is backed up by.

I am also wondering if anyone can give me an idea of what to expect for the surgery.  The mole was on the scapha/antihelix of my ear, so it's kind of a complex area to work in for the reexcision.  Since my dermatologist referred me to a plastic surgeon, I am assuming they expect to perform some level of reconstruction on the site - does anyone know what reconstruction options I'm likely to be presented with?  Is it likely they will need to perform a skin graft?  What sort of recovery time is typical for this type of surgery?

Thank you.

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LindyVA's picture
Replies 15
Last reply 1/16/2013 - 6:28pm

My husband (stage four mel) started Yervoy Dec 1 2012...4 infusions and he did well, only fevers, bad rash and fatigue. The Ong told us he was a melanoma expert only to find out my husband was the melanoma patient and the only Yervoy patient. I watched the test using all the tips I learned on this wonderfully, informative  I knew he was responding by the numbers. But the Ong said ACL's have nothing to do this whether the drug was working or not.   After # 4 the PET/CT showed tumor reduction in lungs, adrenal, heart(this was almost as large as heart)  and brain.(Brain MRI) He has had gamma knife 3 times.

I asked the Ong about maintainence. He told me there was not such thing. I produced several pages of comments on maintaince every 12 weeks. So he agreed and did one maintainence and said that since my husband was too tired to play golf he should have no more Yervoy. Well, it was Aug and 103 degrees in Virginia, but a new CT scan said everything was OK. I really felt we needed to continue maintainence until the end of the year, but the family was ecsatic over the good reports so I remained possitive.

Well, 2 days before Christmas Ong informs us he has "hot spot" on adrenda glandl. I said he had met on adrendal 13 months ago before yervoy...could it be the Yervoy lighting it up? He said absolutely not. I asked if we could do some more maintainence and Ong said only if he survives the surgery then we will talk about it. But he would have to due re-introduction because maintainence would no longer be viable. I would think as a good Yervoy responder, that there would be other options than going directly to surgery.

He says we need to see surgeon asap and hear about this cool new robot they would use for the surgery. Surgeon says my husband not good candidate for surgery do to heart conditions, but he survived last 4 melanoma surgeries so let's go ahead and schedule surgery asap and hope the second adrenal functions for both. I mentioned to the surgeon it could be the Yervoy... and he says he never heard of Yervoy, but it has stopped working by now (12 months after first yervoy treatment) so surgery is the only thing to do

I have been researching and found posts stating they can not tell if "hot spot" is active met or active yervoy attacking the met. I am so confused and scared. I can not tell our 6 children, their spouces and our 11 grandchildren we are on the rollercoaster again.

There are so many of you that are very knowledgeable of yervoy and I used your knowledge to get him this far. Thank you.

Questions? Can it be Yervoy and not the met lighting up and is there any way to tell if it is a new or the same mass? 

Can we ask for another reading of the PET/CT scan to try and clarify what is lighting up?

 Must yervoy be totally re-introduced or can we re-start maintainece. 

How do we find a second opinion when we do not have a melonoma specialist in our city (Richmond, VA)

Am I wrong to question these professionals and to postpone this surgery until we have more information.

Thank you for your time and attention to my concerns and for any suggestions you my have.




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My father, age 76, was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma in November after having a 3.5-cm tumor removed from his skull bone.  They could not find a primary, and his PET scan otherwise looks clear (no evidence of disease).  He also had a brain MRI and CT scans.  The doctors say they don't know whether the next tumors will show up in two months or five years, but they will show up.  He is about to start a two-week course of radiation at the tumor site and was given two options for further treatment: 1) observation (wait-and-see) and 2) clinical trial of 10 mg/kg ipi, 3 mg/kg ipi, or interferon.  He has Kaiser in the Bay Area, and we like his oncologist, but she is not a melanoma specialist.  Apparently there are no melanoma specialists in Kaiser Northern California, and she will not refer outside this region.  Here come my questions:

Is it worth seeing a melanoma specialist to discuss his treatment options?  He isn't sure whether trying to get into the clinical trial is a good idea, since he currently has no observable tumors and he feels fine.  The oncologist didn't seem to have any personal experience with the drug; she said she did not highly encourage it due to the side effects.  I saw from older posts that a lot of people like Drs. Daud and Algazi at UCSF.  We are willing to try them, but does anyone use or recommend any of the specialists at Stanford, which is closer to us?  Any ballpark ideas for a consultation fee for second opinions from UCSF or Stanford?  

Thanks in advance...



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KRob's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 1/16/2013 - 3:52pm
Replies by: DeniseK, bikerwife, KRob, POW, Anonymous

Hello all!

It's been some time since I have logged on, but I always keep tabs on and prayers for all here who share the bond of melanoma.

I have had the blessed good fortune of being an (almost) 8-year survivor of stage IV, 24 yrs since first being diagnosed in 1989 as stage I. In that time I have learned so much and understood so little, but I do know that there is hope for each and everyone of us.

I cling to that hope now as I face another possible hurdle in the form of a brain lesion. The MRI was possibly in error, but my docs will rescan in 8 wks to see if there is any change.

Does it get any easier? Sometimes.

Is there ever a time when scans aren't stressful? Nope.

Can someone live with melanoma? Absolutely. No one is a statistic; there is always hope!

My best to all,


"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." - Ralph Waldo Emerson "Dreary though the path may look to others, it has quiet lights and gentle shades that no other path in life can offer."

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karebear1905's picture
Replies 11
Last reply 1/16/2013 - 3:24pm

Hi! I would like to introduce my self. I was diagnosis with superficial spreading melanoma stage 3b in April 2012. After snb and wide excision along with lymphorectory in my groin, I have been NED since. For treatment, I decided to participate in the ipi trial offered for 10mg. I finished the infusion phase and have moved forward to the maintainance phase beginning the 24th of this month.

The biggest thing that I have struggled with since my diagnosis is the psychological effects of not being certain of the future. I constantly find myself viewing the statistics and thinking that I may be a casualty to this disease. I doubt myself and my faith. I am afraid of leaving my two children without a mother. I guess the biggest thing I yearn for is peace of mind. I always get a lot of anxiety especially whenever my 3 month scans come up with the study I am in. Does anyone get as anxious and doubtful as I do?

I know I must live for the moment but some reassures for the future would be nice!


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lou2's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 1/16/2013 - 10:18am
Replies by: lou2, buffcody


Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2013) 133, 292–295; doi:10.1038/jid.2012.386

Melanoma Prognostics and Personalized Therapeutics at a Crossroad

Roger S Lo1,2

  1. 1Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

Correspondence: Roger S. Lo, Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90095-1750, USA. E-mail:


Melanoma has recently emerged as a poster child for targeted therapies and immunotherapies, with game-changing BRAF and immune checkpoint inhibitors now in clinical trials and with approved clinical indications. One highly anticipated use of novel therapeutic agents is in the adjuvant setting. Adjuvant BRAF and/or immune checkpoint inhibition may positively affect the survival of melanoma patients diagnosed at earlier stages but still at high risk for postsurgical relapses. BRAF V600 mutations and, potentially, melanoma-associated immunity are predictive biomarkers for responses to these novel therapies. Emerging evidence points to these predictive biomarkers doubling as prognostic biomarkers for high-risk stage III patients, promising to help stratify these patients for the application of novel adjuvant therapies.

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Brendan's picture
Replies 0

Hi Everyone,

I signed up in September to thank Brenda (Brenda-you and Kevin continue to inspire me and others!), but this is my first post about myself.

I have been stage IV since Sep 2011 (more details on my profile). I had a craniotomy in November to remove a brain met and just received the good news that I am still NED...MRI and CT came back clean.

I have visited this site often and would like to thank everyone for their contibutions and honesty. I always say to myself, "We are fighting cancer-it's not supposed to be easy," and this website often helps in the fight.

To the people out there who are new here I would like to offer some unsolicited advice that has helped me:
1-Go to an oncologist who specializes in melanoma.
2-Go to an oncologist who specializes in melanoma.
3-Reread 1 and 2.
4-Be careful with this website. I have learned to use it for inspiration. It has helped me through some tough days, but some days the scary stories make things worse (just my opinion-I realize we are all doing what we can and the scary stories are inevitable).
5-Check out the posts of CharlieS. His story (and his grin!!) will make you smile.

Good luck and God bless.

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Laurie from maine's picture
Replies 19
Last reply 1/15/2013 - 7:31pm


I have been told there is nothing left they can do.  I have been thru a lot and agree that we have tried everthing

I have a question I am hoping to have my body donated to medical research hoping it can help others in the future.(my body is full of tumors and I would assume they would be useful)   I am having a hard time finding  a list a website or something that will guide me as to how start the process of getting applications done so I can give them to the funeral home,  so that it is all set for when the time comes. 

hard subject but I am hopeful that my death at least brings some help to others

Thank you all for your help.  I have benefitted so much for everyones knowledge, kindness and truly family type caring.

Stay strong everyone!  You are all warriors!! 


I am taking the time I now have to enjoy every moment that I get to be here with family and friends


Thank you to anyone who has information about donating your body. My doctor had no information

Thank you

Laurie from maine

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LynnLuc's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 1/15/2013 - 6:19pm
Replies by: JakeinNY, Anonymous, awillett1991, lou2
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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Anonymous's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 1/15/2013 - 4:14pm

Anyone on the pd1 drug & also got a flu shot??? Any side effects??

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slorlando's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 1/15/2013 - 2:53pm
Replies by: Janner, malika

Hello all,

My sons slides were sent to Sloan Kettering for expert opinion. Sloan then sent the slides out for a FISH analysis.

I received results today and now I am even more confused.  The new diagnosis is "atypical compound spitz tumor, irritated; transected".  Is that the same thing as the first diagnosis?

The report then goes on to say that the negative FISH test is re-assuring, but sue to the limitations in the sensitivity of the test, a negative result is not entirely definitive.  The pathologist goes on to say the a re-excision is strongly recommended along with a sentinel lymph node biopsy.  He also stated "I would also like to state that aspect of the diagnostic challenge (and hesitation to establish a definitive diagnosis) is the fact that we only see the superficial portion of an incompletely removed lesion.  We would appreciate the opportunity to review the completely excised tumor, since features of the residual tumor may be relevant for the final diagnosis."

That's not all of the report but it seems very indecisive.


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Owl's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 1/15/2013 - 8:00am
Replies by: Owl, Tina D, awillett1991

Dear all,

after one week 'holiday' my husband is now back on Z since Friday, but on a smaller dose, 3-0-3. His rash hasn't disappeared but is much better than a week before. He got some steroid salve and 'anti-histamine' which helped after a couple of days. We hope that his skin will get better over the time and he can stick with a lower dose without taking any steroids.

Thank you for the latest information about Z and a possible on/off therapy avoiding resistance. It is also encouring to hear that MEK is hopefully close to be approved. In Germany this information is hard to get so that's why I always come back to you.


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