Home Forums For Caregivers Only My sister has melanoma. Please educate me.

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    I learned from my sister today that she has been diagnosed with melanoma. She will next be undergoing what she’s expecting to be a rather mild outpatient surgery. This is scheduled for Tuesday.

    The few details I know are these. She is 51. she noticed a new mole on her ankle about six months ago. She saw her primary doctor who wasn’t very concerned but referred her to a dermatologist. They gave her an appointment five months out which turned out to be last week. A physical exam turned up two more “areas of interest”, and they took three small but painful chunks out of her leg to biopsy. The ankle mole turned out to be melanoma, the others not.

    The doctor told her that, statistically, her circumstances put her at the very top on odds for a successful outcome. It was new and small. So small in fact, that they were unable to do a measurement for one of the danger indicies. Something about depth of the affected tissue — if my sister understood and remembered correctly what was said, this depth is what was too small to measure.

    The surgery for Tuesday is basically to widen and deepen last week’s tissue excision. The dermatologist said she thinks they got all of it, but now that they know what they know, they want to do a more thorough removal of any cancerous tissue that might be left.

    So far there hasn’t been any discussion of what’s next, if anything, beyond more tissue tests and monitoring.

    Where are the best places for info? What are the survival rates for those diagnosed under what might be badly termed “ideal” circumstances– about as early as possible to do so, and without any apparent spread to secondary locations? Should she be expecting more treatment — some kind of chemotherapy? What kind of questions do we need to be asking of the medical people?

    Catherine Poole

    Without knowing your sister’s pathology we couldn’t really advise on what is next. She sounds very low risk. The place to gain knowledge is here on our website. I have also written a book you can get on Amazon very low cost. Feel free to call our helpline: 610-942-3432. Try not to worry, and chemo is not used on melanoma but I doubt you will be discussing that.

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