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Question about axillary lymphadenectomy for malignant melanoma

Dobermom
Posts: 40
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm looking for advice and experiences from those who have been there/done that with this surger. I have a rather large (the radiologist said "plum sized") lymph node in my right armpit that tested positive for MM that I'm expecting they're going to want to remove. However, I can't find much more than general information about this surgery, especially what to expect afterwards. Questions that come to mind: is this an outpatient surgery, or do they keep you in the hospital and if so, for how long? How long can I expect recovery to take? Any advice/suggestions to offer to prepare for this surgery?

Thank you!

DC_WYTE
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2009

I had the lymphnodes of my neck taken out. I only spent one night in the hospital. Your case is a little different but my surgeon explained both types to me. I had a drain tube installed in the surgery site to expell any lymph fluid or post op secretions. There wasn't much. But I understand with the under arm lymphnodes it is more problematic. I dont know if they are removing the one, a few, or all. The surgeon will probably suggest at least the other ones around the infected one. So back to recovery. They told me in your case that the fluid tends to collect in your arm, so they will give you a pressure cuff to wear to keep the swelling down/ as well as pain. I know that many people have made it through your surgery with a couple of weeks of recovery. I know... WEEKS! But let's look at what is important here. Get it out, focus on recovery, and then find a follow up treatment to prevent its recurrence. I would suggest getting alot of Vitamin C up til two days before surgery, and then Vitamin C & E a few days after surgery, until fully recovered. I am in my second week of recovery I feel great but Doc says no heavy lifting until three weeks. DAVE

Dobermom
Posts: 40
Joined: Aug 2009

Dave,

Thank you for your reply! I finally saw my oncologist today. He said they're going to remove all lymph nodes under the arm, followed by 4 weeks of high-dose interferon, then self-injected inteferon for up to a year - pretty much what I exptected.

I'm expecting the weeks of recovery, post-surgery - so that isn't a surprise. I just don't know how immobile my arm will be. I'm a computer person - so I'm wondering how soon I can expect to be able to be back on the computer - both physically AND mentally.

The oncologist already "yelled" at me about my iron levels and warned me I'll need some IV iron supplementation before surgery for my lymph nodes (typical female - I've fought anemia all my life). I'll get some vitamin C - I've read it's supposed to help iron absorption.

Good luck with recovery! I don't see my surgeon until the 28th, but her specialty is breast surgery- in fact that's all she does, so she really is the best option for removal of lymph nodes under the arm. It's worth waiting a few extra days - both to get my iron levels up, and to get a surgeon whose specialty is that region of the body. Maybe I won't be subject to the lymphedema people talk about.

Please let me know how you're doing after your surgery!

Chris

DC_WYTE
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2009

I just saw a radiology/oncologist today. My surgeon recomended a consult. They both think it would be beneficial to zap the area where my lymphnodes were because the pathology report stated there was an infected lymphnode with extra-capsular extensions. Vascular invasion present. There may be residual disease/that will not show up on scans. I'm seeing my Melanoma specialist next Tuesday 25th. I'll get his input before making a decision. I am doing a clinical trial, a vaccine treatment with him instead of interfereon. I'll start in a couple of weeks. (another wait) I hope everything goes well with you.
Do you have a cancer center at your hospital ? I have a non-profit independant center that has a surviver group meeting 2x a month, I find it beneficial to talk to others in person. You may too. GOOD LUCK> DAVE

Dobermom
Posts: 40
Joined: Aug 2009

I'll add you to my prayer list, Dave. Good luck and let me know how it goes, please.

Doesn't it seem we're in much more of a hurry for things than they are?

We have an independent cancer center. Some local oncologists and radiologists got together and opened a center. As far as I can tell, they can do just about everything except surgery on-site. They refer you to surgical specialists for that!

I forgot to ask my oncologist about support groups. I know the center has them, I just have to find out if they have any specific to melanoma, or if I need to find a general support group.

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