Just diagnosed with melanoma?
If you’re reading this, you or someone you know has undergone a biopsy or other tests in which the diagnosis of melanoma has been confirmed. First, know that you are not alone. Second, arm yourself with information and resources.
Understanding Your Melanoma Diagnosis
Knowing and understanding your melaoma diagnosis is of the utmost importance, as it helps determine your treatment plan. Learn more about each stage below:
Free Patient Resources
The Melanoma Research Foundation has a variety of free information and resources available to someone who has been diagnosed with melanoma. They are listed here:
- Online Patient Bulletin Board (MPIP) – Ask questions, read comments and find answers by becoming a part of our online support system.
- Toll-free Helpline – Speak with trained oncology social workers about the psychosocial and financial burdens of a melanoma diagnosis.
- Clinical Trial Finder – Use this tool to help you navigate clinical trials that you might be eligible for.
- Therapy Finder – Use this tool to help you navigate treatment options based on specific genetic mutations (BRAF, GNAQ, etc.) in your tumor.
- Phone Buddy Program – Get paired with someone who can provide you with emotional support during your treatment or recovery period.
- Ask a Nurse Email Program – Send an email to the MRF nurse and receive an answer within 72 hours.
- Educational Programs – in-person, online and over-the-phone educational programs lead by leading melanoma physicians and healthcare providers.
What You Need to Know
- You have been given a diagnosis, not a death sentence.
- Melanoma survival statistics describe a group of similar patients…but they may have nothing to do with your chance of survival.
- Often for melanoma treatment, there is no single answer. Every case is different.
- It is important to be an active participant in your treatment. Be your own advocate.
- Write everything down and take someone with you to doctor’s appointments.
Upon receiving a melanoma diagnosis, you will receive a stage of diagnosis. Your stage helps the melanoma treatment team develop an appropriate plan for you. Your stage will also help determine your prognosis, or outlook. Additional tests, including blood work, bone scans, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans and Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsies may also need to be done to determine your stage.
Have you been diagnosed with Stage III melanoma? If so, you may want to view our literature on Managing a Stage III Diagnosis to learn more about possible treatment options.
Be sure that your melanoma treatment team has done the following:
- Given you a stage of diagnosis
- Tested your melanoma for genetic mutations (BRAF, cKIT, NRAS, etc.)
- Spoken to you about all available treatment options, including those options that are approved by the FDA and those that are currently in clinical trials
- Given you the pros and cons of each treatment option and allowed YOU to make the decision you feel most comfortable with
If you don’t feel comfortable with your diagnosis or treatment team, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
Preparing For Appointments
Take someone with you to your appointments and be prepared with questions to ask your doctor. Write down the answers so you don't forget. Research shows that patients who bring someone else to their doctor visits better understand their doctor's advice, are more likely to talk about tough topics and are more satisfied with their doctor.
The Treatment Center Finder will help you find a melanoma treatment center in your area. This is not a doctor recommendation, but these centers have a strong melanoma department and experience with melanoma.
Do you have additional questions or want more information about your melanoma diagnosis, or want to connect with fellow patients and caregivers? Email Education@melanoma.org for help or answers, or visit our online bulletin board.