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.

Expand/ Collapse Topic
Replies By
View Topic
Anonymous's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 7/28/2014 - 7:56pm
Replies by: Anonymous, buffcody, ncdaniel, King
On June 13, 2014 my father was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma of the small intestine.
A few days earlier my father told his heart doctor that he was feeling fatigued for a couple months now which then they decided to do blood work. His hemoglobin game back at 6.5.
After the blood work came back we immediately went to the ER for a blood transfusion. Due to my fathers heart condition they could only give him so much blood. After the transfusion his hemoglobin was at 8.6. They immediately started him on ferrous sulfate (iron) which naturally raised his hemoglobin to 10.3 and his holding steady. 
Once the pet scan and cat scan came back, it showed a couple mets on his lung, heart wall, chest muscle, groin and thigh muscle as well as the three tumors in his small intestine. The doctor at Toledo said we needed to test for BRAF and start treatment right away. Why wouldn't they remove the ones in the small intestine?
We immediately knew that we wanted to see the melanoma specialist up at University of Michigan and started the intake process. 
Since University of Michigan couldn't get us in till mid July, we pushed the Toledo doctor/oncologist to start my dad on something. Two weeks after he was diagnosed he started Yervoy. We refused to wait any longer. The Toledo oncologist has consulted the U of M specialist with every decision they have made for my dad because she was so nervous what the yervoy could do with his GI problems.
Our appointment with U of M was supposed to be July 15th but the specialist called us and cancelled it. Said they didn't feel comfortable transferring his medical care during treatment. Everyone wants us to go up to U of M but I don't know why there is a problem with transferring treatment? 
He just had his second treatment and has had no side effects besides fatigue and we pray it stays that way. He says he feels nothing is wrong. Hemoglobin is steady above 10, no pain and his appetite is great.
The doctors say they are extremely confident in Yervoy. And that they want my dad to finish the Yervoy treatments at Toledo because it's exactly what they'd be doing at U of M. Also that they've been working together on his treatment. U of M said after the fourth treatment they will do pet scans and cat scans to determine how the Yervoy worked. If it didn't work they would put my dad in the trial coming up at the end of his treatment.
Is it common not to transfer during treatment? Should we look for another specialist? It seems as though the Toledo oncologist and the U of M specialist are working side by side. When we speak with them separately they say the same thing.
Am I overreacting? I feel as though I need to calm down but this is my dad and i want the best care for him.
Kind words of encouragement are appreciated as this is really hurting us.
Thank you

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!”

― Audrey Hepburn


Login or register to post replies.

tcell's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 7/28/2014 - 8:00pm

Does anybody know if this is worth almost 300 bucks for the download version? Is it up to date? Is there sufficient information in there about alternative treatments, etc???

Login or register to post replies.

angtom's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 7/29/2014 - 5:45am

My husband has stage 4 melanoma and has been accepted to the TIL trial at Moffitt he is BRAF negative, my question is what is our back up if this does not work? I am just trying to get all of my options as a precaution. He will be doing the IPI - IL-2 Immunotherapy first IPI is on August 1st. I would appreciate any advice or anyones experience with this trial as I want to try to make him as comfortable as possible during these procedures. He is a healthy 51 year old and still working 6 days a week 10 to 14 hours a day, against my advice but it keeps him sane. I welcome any and all feed back, thank you so much.

Login or register to post replies.

jualonso's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 7/29/2014 - 9:18am
Replies by: Ginger8888, jack6020

Hi folks,

No one of us would like to be part of a big trial like this, but unfortunately we are.

Im thinking to collect some datas of each of us (just stage iv) that i think, crossing them we will be able to get some answers about why some treatments work o not. May nothing can be gotten but who knows, we are a lot of people and perhaps with a lot of data is possible to realize of something. This is just and idea. what to do you think about it?

Login or register to post replies.

Replies by: fortiz, tcell, jualonso, Anonymous

Hi folks,

Finally i have decided to stop with combo, i was talking with my doc about to start

Mek anti pd1, but the condition is to progress on ipi or braf inhibitors, then the only option i have is to stop taking pills before the next PetScan and show progression in it (now in NED)

Is a very tought decision but i dont have any other option if i want to avoid resistance and still keep these drugs with pottencial for the future.

I would be very gratefull any help from someone who has follow the same path




Login or register to post replies.

Anonymous's picture
Replies 0

You would think being outside on the skin that skin cancer would lend itself even more to this. . . .



Chicago Tribune

Angela Zimm, Bloomberg News,
30 July 2014,
1260 words,
Copyright 2014, Chicago Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

Which is better at detecting cancer, a laboratory or a Labrador retriever?

Consider the talents of Tsunami, a dog with attentive eyes and an enthusiastic tail wag for her trainer friends. University of Pennsylvania researchers say she is more than 90 percent successful in identifying the scent of ovarian cancer in tissue samples, opening a new window on a disease with no effective test for early detection that kills 14,000 Americans a year. When found early, there's a five-year survival rate of over 90 percent.

With 220 million olfactory cells in a canine nose, compared with 50 million for humans, dogs have long helped in search-and-rescue missions. Now, a growing body of evidence supports the possible use of canines by clinicians. The largest study ever done on cancer-sniffing dogs found they can detect prostate cancer by smelling urine samples with 98 percent accuracy. At least one application is in the works seeking U.S. approval of a kit using breath samples to find breast cancer.

"Our study demonstrates the use of dogs might represent, in the future, a real clinical opportunity if used together with common diagnostic tools," said Gian Luigi Taverna, the author of the prostate cancer research reported in May at the American Urological Association in Boston.

While smaller studies have long shown dogs can sniff out a range of illnesses, the question of whether they can be used on a large-scale basis has drawn skepticism. Questions remain about whether one type of dog is better than another, how to systemize their use and the financial viability of any such system. As a result, most current research is looking at how to copy the canine ability to smell disease either with a machine or a chemical test.

"Our standardized method is reproducible, low cost and noninvasive for the patients and for the dogs," said Taverna, the head of urology pathology at Istituto Clinico Humanitas in Rozzano, Italy, in an email.

Taverna tested the ability of two professionally trained explosive detection dogs, Zoe and Liu, in 677 cases to assess their accuracy, according to his paper. The next step, according to Taverna, will be to extend the research into prostate cancer subgroups and to other urological malignancies.

The results may one day be used to help develop an electronic nose that follows nature's lead in how a canine nose works, he said.

Taverna's finding comes as standard PSA testing for prostate cancer is challenged as not accurate enough, with false positives leading to unnecessary treatment.

In 2012, the Preventive Services Task Force, which reports on medical issues to the U.S. Congress, recommended that healthy men shouldn't be screened for prostate cancer using PSA tests after research showed that false positive rates may be as high as 80 percent. The test measures a protein made by prostate cells called prostate-specific antigen.

When dogs sniff for cancer, they are detecting the chemicals emitted by a tumor. These chemicals are referred to as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs have been found in the breath of lung cancer patients and colon cancer patients, as well as in the urine of prostate cancer patients. The most recent findings have spurred increased interest in dog cancer-detection research, including efforts to develop devices that can mimic the animal's olfactory system.

Dina Zaphiris, a nationally recognized dog trainer who works with canines on federally funded studies in detecting early cancer in humans, is leading the charge for Food and Drug Administration clearance of a system that would use the olfactory talents of dogs in medical care.

In 2009, Zaphiris, a dog trainer for 25 years with an extensive list of celebrity clients and an education in biology, founded the In Situ Foundation, a nonprofit organization that trains cancer-sniffing dogs and conducts research in the field.

Her organization is submitting an FDA application for approval of a canine medical scent detection kit. In her system, patients exhale through a tube on to a cloth, which captures molecules, or VOCs, of a malignancy. Trained dogs would then sniff the cloths for their presence. The dog screening would be an "early warning test," she said, possibly used in connection with a mammogram for reviewing results before proceeding to a biopsy.

"You should see the amount of emails I get saying, 'I got an unclear mammogram, and I don't know if I want a biopsy, so could I have dogs screen my breath sample?' " Zaphiris said.

Zaphiris' interest in the issue began in 2003 when she worked on a study to detect breast and lung cancer. A paper on that limited study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies, found that dogs could detect lung tumors with 99 percent sensitivity and 99 percent specificity; for breast tumors, results were 88 percent sensitivity and 98 percent specificity.

Now Zaphiris is working with Jeffrey Marks, an associate professor of surgery and pathology at Duke University to train dogs to detect breast cancer, she said. It takes about six weeks to teach a dog, and Zaphiris says she usually trains a new team of canines for each one, working at her 3-acre facility in West Hills, Calif.

Zaphiris isn't alone in her quest to get dogs involved in medical care. At the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers are studying whether dogs can find ovarian cancer in tissue and blood samples. If so, it would be a breakthrough for a difficult disease.

"We're trying a multiprong approach," including the dogs and laboratory efforts, "to determine if there's some signature in blood in women with ovarian cancer so we can develop a detection system," said Cindy Otto, director of the university's Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia.

The project, which began last year, is now focused on training the dogs using tissue samples from both cancerous ovaries and ovaries with benign disease.

Tsunami, the German shepherd named for her tendency to come happily at you when you least expect it, has been particularly successful early in her training, Otto said. When she's working, she becomes quiet and pensive. She works slowly, circling a wheel containing blocks of samples. She sniffs, she stops, she thinks, Otto said. When she identifies cancer, she sits; that's the sign.

The research effort is a collaboration among chemists, doctors and physicists at the university, with a primary focus on developing an "electronic nose" that duplicates a dog's ability to smell disease. Otto said she doesn't think using dogs in a clinical setting would be practical.

"The challenge is the expense," she said. "If you're talking about screening every woman from 25 to 90, that's a lot of samples."

Zaphiris said the medical system shouldn't wait for the development of technology that can accurately sense cancer with the ability of a dog. Her goal is to open canine scent detection centers that will make her animals accessible beyond just their use for research.

"If there is a machine as accurate as a dog, I say do it," Zaphiris said. "It's highly impractical to wait until the machines can catch up."


Chicago Tribune


Login or register to post replies.

Tracy Chicago's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 7/30/2014 - 10:47am
Replies by: Tracy Chicago, CHD, 5dives

Has anyone sucessfully insisted on lymphatic mapping for a Level 1 melanoma? I ask because my first primary was level 1 and then three years it spread to my lymph nodes, making me stage 3.  I now have a second level 1 melanoma in a different place. I'd like to request lymphatic mapping considering my history.

Login or register to post replies.

curious12's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 7/30/2014 - 11:03am
Replies by: curious12, Anonymous

Hi! I've had melanoma in-situ and my sibling has. We have tons of moles and I've probably had 50+ removed. I'm pretty knowledgeable on all things melanoma. My 8 year old son has a a new small, red/flesh colored bump on his forehead. It's very harmless looking (doesn't itch or hurt) but it isn't going away. It has only been maybe 12-14 days. I know melanoma in kids can present this way. I WILL get it biopsied if it doesn't go away of course, but what timeframe do you think is reasonable to wait? I was thinking 2 more weeks and then get it cut out, but is that crazy? I don't want to let my anxiety take over and cut into his face too soon! Don'T care about scars, but realize there are a million benign things that are more likely. Saw a derm today-- she wasn't sure. Said looks harmless- - maybe cyst or insect bite. There is no head to it. She said to come back in 4-6 weeks if still there.. but I don't even want to wait that long!!   He also has a very dark brand new dark spot on sole of foot that two derms say looks fine, but I don't like it (it's 1mm) It's almost black and on the sole of foot.. considering biopsy as well.. Would love to know if I'm being reasonable or overboard. thanks!

Login or register to post replies.

Anonymous's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 7/30/2014 - 12:03pm
Replies by: Anonymous, arthurjedi007

Hello -

Im currently a care taker (along with a few others). My "patient" was diagnosed stage IV in January of this year. Primary was a mole on his side, but the initial diagnosis came from the removal of a tumor on his side. Pet scan showed melanoma had spread to liver, spleen, pelvis, abdomen, spine, right arm & lungs. Before the test results came back for the BRAF mutation he did one round of Ipi. Before his second round they switched treatment and put him on the the MEK combo. In the end of April his LDH started coming down and tumors show stabilization and some decrease. Things stayed like this till end of June. His LDH started rising again and although the origin tumors still remained same and some decreasing two new  tumors came up in his soft tissue. He started back on the Ipi three weeks later. He's now had two rounds and of Ipi and radiation on his arm and pelvis to help levitate some pain he's in. Recently he's started having spasms and twitching. I don't know whether to attribute it to the disease that may have moved to the brain or all the medication he's taking? The other think I wonder is if the Mek combo caused the stabilization or if it was the initial round of Ipi that kicked in. My fear is that he won't make it long enough to see if the Ipi works.

Login or register to post replies.

Sherri's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 7/30/2014 - 1:10pm
Replies by: Janner

Hi this is my first time posting.  I'm especially interested in Janners response:). I've read a lot of your replies.  I had a .3 mm depth stage 1A in November.  In June of this year I was told I had an in situ on my back but I go to U Of M for surgeries and my derm sends the oaths to them....they changed that ex to moderately atypical hyperplasia.  We still did the surgery as if it were in situ.  I know I shouldn't worry about recurrence?  But what are my chances of a second primary with dysplastic nevus syndrome?  I've had so many answers from we don't put a number on it to 20% from a good derm who said whether a person has one dysplastic mole or 50 their chances are 20% for a second primary.  I have two boys so young and this consumes me where I'm going to counseling.  I know someone who sees an oncologist and a derm for a stage 1 and yhe oncologist just does a second body scan and checks nodes and blood.... Thoughts?  This is so new to me that I need info!  I sure am afraid of this:(. 



Login or register to post replies.

Nell's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 7/30/2014 - 5:15pm
Replies by: Anonymous, Mat

Has anybody had loose green stools during treatment with yervoy?

One voice can make a song; one life can change the world.

Login or register to post replies.

jualonso's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 7/30/2014 - 5:17pm
Replies by: Anonymous

In the 16 and 17 page of thie document there is a interesting study, because oc my english i dont understand as well as i would like, could someone do a easier conclusions?




Login or register to post replies.

Tracy Chicago's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 7/31/2014 - 11:43am
Replies by: Tracy Chicago, Janner

Hi! I had my second melanoma removed (level 1) and it's pretty small. Who should I have do my wide excision?  My choices are a plastic surgeon who specializes in melanoma or a surgical oncoglogist.  Would a surgical oncologist be over kill for a melanoma that was less than 1mm?

Login or register to post replies.

Anonymous's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 7/31/2014 - 1:48pm



I'm not oncologist, just a GP and I wish I can help one of my patient and friend here in Europe to access this treatment (or the other anti-PD-1 antibody) ...

Is there a way to get it under "compationate use" she will pay for it , is she can afford...

Looking for any assistance in this way,


thank you for this usefull board

Login or register to post replies.

Brigitte's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 7/31/2014 - 4:25pm
Replies by: Brigitte, Janner, Kim K

I was wondering if someone could help me understand my biopsy report. 

On top is says clinical diagnosis  Lentigo VS. MM  (does that mean what my docter dignosed and sent to the patholoogy, or what the pathologist diannosed? 


under that is says: Diagnosis: Compound Nevus with dysplastic Features.

Sections show a compound nevomelanocytic prolifeeration exhibiting dysplastic features, primarily in the form of lentiginous architectural disorder and asymmetry, accompanied by random, relatively mild, cytologic atypia. Junctional changes are focally advanced, perhaps indicative of progression, such that a conservative complete excision is recommended. 

Im a little freaked by the words focally advanced, perhaps indicative of progression. Does that mean that maybe I do have cancer but they cannot tell until they get the excersion biobsy?    Please help me understand what all this means. 

Login or register to post replies.