Home Forums Melanoma: Stage III New here, Stage 3a, have questions

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    Hello new friends,

    I am a 43 year old woman who had a malignant melanoma removed from my right forearm 3 weeks ago. Original path report showed 0.97mm deep, non-ulcerated, Clark’s level 4, mitoses 3-4.

    I had a wide excision of the area and sentinel node biopsy a week later. The wide excision showed no melanoma, but the one sentinel node showed a 0.1mm spot of melanoma that was found with the stains Melan A and HMB 45. I was told this puts me at a Stage IIIa.

    I am scheduled for a PET scan this week and will see the melanoma specialist Wednesday. I’m trying to remain calm (I was NOT calm earlier, as I received my diagnoses a mere 3 hours after a young friend died of breast cancer) and research some of the options I may be presented with.

    Assuming my PET scan is clear, is it prudent to have all of my lymph nodes removed? My surgeon says no, that it only promotes complications and studies show that it doesn’t improve outcome. The (non-melanoma) oncologist said it may be an option. He also mentioned axillary radiation. Has anyone had this?

    I do have a history of depression and will probably decline Interferon based on this and the fact that it may not work. The melanoma specialist I’ve been referred to is in San Francisco and I see that he runs many clinical trials. I do not qualify for any of them at this time, unless he will make an exception for a Stage 3a rather than a 3b.

    I’m scared and overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do and feel that anything I choose will be risky in one way or another. Any words of wisdom, hope, or guidance is appreciated.


    You made a wise move by consulting with a melanoma specialist. There is one trial I came across that includes Stage IIIA patients. You might want to check the link in this post out and ask that melanoma specialist about it:

    http://forum.melanomainternational.org/mif/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=33969” class=”bbcode_url”>http://forum.melanomainternational.org/mif/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=33969

    When you have a complete lymph node dissection, you run the risk of developing a condition called lymphedema. As if melanoma isn’t bad enough. :| But, not everyone gets it and if you do get it, know that it is a manageable condition. Though there are no guarantees I have seen the term “potentially curative” mentioned in medical reports that talk about lymph node dissections (aka lymphadenectomies) for melanoma patients.

    I did not experience any swelling in my arm after having all the axially nodes under my left arm removed. But there are folks on this board who have had groin dissections and have problems with their leg swelling.

    To my knowledge, axillary radiation is done if doctors found something called extra capsular extensions in your lymph nodes as a result of the melanoma.

    The melanoma specialist should be able to give you options. I saw two after I was diagnosed over two years ago and both gave me the same options: interferon, do nothing (observation only), or clinical trial.

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