Home Forums Newly Diagnosed Stage III/IV New to this board; could use a doctor rec

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    I’m not sure if I still qualify as “newly diagnosed” or not, but I figured this was a good place to ask my particular question.

    I was diagnosed January 15 of this year. Nodular melanoma, 8.4mm, no ulceration or satellite lesions. Technically stage IIIC, but my current oncologist (Dr. Christopher Lao, U of M) said that I have a better prognosis than that would normally indicate. SLNB turned up 4/4 positive, but one was only 10% cancerous, two were 5% each, and the last was ~2%. They pulled out almost 30 more lymph nodes from my neck (melanoma was on the back of my head) and every single one was clean. (Whew!) CT scans and MRIs of head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis found nothing else (save two tiny maybe-somethings in my lungs, too small to biopsy; we’re keeping an eye on ’em). I’m doing wait and watch; haven’t had my next set of scans yet, but had blood work done Friday and it was clean. Oh, and I am BRAF negative.

    My question here is that my husband just got a new job and we’re moving across the state. He’s also getting new insurance coverage ’cause, well, new job with new company in new town. The new coverage won’t cover U of M (where I have been going) but will cover various places in Illinois (we’re in Michigan but where we’re moving to we will be very close to Chicago). I asked Dr. Lao for a rec, and he suggested Dr. Hallmeyer (http://www.oncmed.net/?page_id=139” class=”bbcode_url”>http://www.oncmed.net/?page_id=139). But when I look her up, I see that she mostly does breast and prostate cancer and oh yeah, by the way, also melanoma. I had made it pretty clear to Dr. Lao that I wanted a melanoma specialist, but he did say she was one of the best he could think of.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a Chicago-area (or maybe Grand Rapids?) melanoma specialist? Should I just go ahead and go to Dr. Hallmeyer based on my current onc’s rec? Even being “in a pretty good place” for Stage IIIC, I am still IIIC, so I’m going to be pretty picky about my oncologist and dermatologist (I’ll have to get one of those, too, but I’ll look closer to home for that one – still if you have Western Michigan/Grand Rapids-area recs for those, I’d take ’em!). Thank you!


    I’ve been poking around; AIM at Melanoma’s “Find the Right Doctor” tool suggests another doctor (Dr. Jon Richards) that Dr. Lao had mentioned, but also says that he’s not at an NCI Center of Excellence.

    Anyone know anything about Dr. Thomas Gajewski? He looks pretty good on “paper”, he’s at an NCI Center of Excellence, and the AIM tool recommends him, anyway. (http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/thomas-gajewski.html” class=”bbcode_url”>http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/thomas-gajewski.html) I’m intrigued by the emphasis on immunotherapy, but at the same time, I’m not sure if he’d be interested in my case. My melanoma was easily resected and I’m NED (as far as I know; need to get scans sometime in August/September).

    Catherine Poole

    I would go to either Northwestern or University of Chicago, both are doing the most melanoma research in Chicago. If you truly want a team of experts you might go to NYC, to Sloan Kettering or Columbia that now has Dr. Schwartz a melanoma expert from Sloan. Dr. Richards has mixed reviews from patients.

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