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Treatment decisions for Stage III melanoma

Wanda B
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2010

My 21 year old daughter was diagnosed with melanoma of her ear in 9/08. In 12/09, she had a radical neck dissection with positive lymph nodes in her neck. We have been to 3 oncologists and I have done alot of research online. Her treatment options are Interferon along with possbily radiation to the neck for local control (radiation oncologist wants to radiate, medical oncologist does not) vs a clinical trial at Moffitt with Ipilimumab(50% of patients receive the drug, 50% a placebo). She has heard from the doctors that Interferon really isn't that effective, but may prolong the recurrence. This is an extremely tough decision and the doctors are leaving up to us. Does anyone have any advice from their experience?

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2010

Wanda, I am so sorry that your daughter is going through this. My first melanoma was in 2003 and in 2006 it spread to my lymph nodes in my neck also, but what I didn't know at that time was I had a spot on my lung. So instead of thinking that I might have progressed to stage 3, I was in the stage 4 category. My treatment course was biochemotherapy w/IL-2.

I know that her situation is not the same as mine, but I highly recommend my oncologists. Where do you live?

There is also another site you can go to it's the Melanoma Patients Information Page on the Melanoma Research Foundation website. You'll find it's really helpful and you might find others that are in the same stage and age. I hope this helps. I will keep you and her in my prayers,

Posts: 230
Joined: Jun 2009

I am so sorry about your daughter. My wife is successfully battling stage IV metatastic melanoma in her lung and on her esophagus since August 2009 after being cancer free since 1991 when she had a melanoma mole on her forehead. She had faithfully returned for followup visits since 1991.

When her oncologist discussed prognosis and treatment in August he recommended the IL2 which had a 20% chance of responding however he also said he had patients using the IL2 who had been 5-10-15 years cancer free. He also said there was clinical trial we might try if IL2 was not successful.
Her oncologist is treating her with IL2 (Interleuken 2) and she is definitely responding to the IL2...her CT scan in October revealed over 50% removal of all 3 tumors and the CT scan in December revealed at least 50% removal of remaining 2 tumors and removal of 1 tumor.

I suggest you discuss the IL2 with your oncologist. I understand what treatment you use depends on the type of cancer.


Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi my name is kim 40 years old stage 3 melanoma. I did a month of interferon and then at home injection but only could handle a couple months. I survived the month of everyday and I think she should do it. I hear the month is most important. I am coming up on 2 years but now experienceing very bad headaches they say they want a brain scan becausae thats where melanoma likes to go.Do it and then do everything else you can. Its bad but she will get thru it Im not sure about radiation on the neck.I am so sorry. Kim

Zod66's picture
Posts: 28
Joined: May 2008

since your original post so you're daughter has probably already made her choice but in case she has not here is my 2cents. Three oncologist and different opinions and treatment options is not surprising with Melanoma. It's a cancer that does not have really solid treatment as with some other cancers you might get the same treatment option 8 of 10 times because it's known to work.
Interferon - a treatment option that has options. Anywhere from doing intervenous high dose treatments 5days a week for 4 weeks to the 4 week ordeal plus 5months of taking 3 shots a week, up to the 4weeks plus 11months of 3shots a week. I personally completed the one yr program and it was, well, too much to describe. And as the previous poster stated she could not complete beyond the first month and two months of shots. It is beyond hard physically and phsycologically and the imperical data does not support nor necessarily negate the effectiveness of the treatment.
Radiation - seems a common treatment when it's in the area of the head especially the Gamma Knife. Seems to be a non-intrusive procedure and effective but is usually used in combination with some other treatment.
Clinical Trials - unless I'm in the group getting the drug I wouldn't want to be part of it.

I noticed another poster mentioned IL2. This seems to be one of the treatments that people have positive, measureable, results. Now the treatment might require certain circumstances which is why it was not given as an option for your daughter but may be worth asking the oncologist about.

Best to you and your family.

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2010

It is true that the effective rates of Interferon are not the best, but it will help to prolong or maybe even to help you to keep the cancer away. I myself had interferon in october of 2007, I only did the high dose portion because i lost health insurance before I got to the low dose portion. It is a tough treatment because you are constantly tired, but for me I thought anything that could possibly help was worth trying. Where there positve lymphnodes in the neck? kinda surpised radiation was mentioned, were I live they tend to not go that direction.

Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2010


I'm sorry that your family is going thru this.
I took the full year course of interferon 3 years ago. The melanoma showed up again in my lungs and I just finished Interluken 2 - don't know the results yet. I am now researching alternative options. If you are interested in alternatives, please get Suzanne Somers book called "Knockout". She has researched doctors that are actually curing cancer. There is another publication called Cancer Breakthrough USA that is available thru Online Publishing & Marketing LLC. One last suggestion - if you are near Moffitt in Tampa there is an accupuncturist in Sarasota who specializes in cancer treatment. He is affiliated with Moffit and helped me get thru both my treatments. His name is RJ Zhao and his office is The Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine.
You are in my prayers.

Posts: 16
Joined: Jun 2009


I feel for you and your daughter. I was on my way to my son's college graduation when the doctor called with biopsy results and told me that I had melanoma. I had an appointment with a surgeon the day I got back. No question that it is a life-changing diagnosis. My cancer was also stage 3.

When I met with the oncologist we discussed options as you have. I finally decided that I wanted to have the hope of seeing all of our future grandchildren. Interferon seemed to offer that. Different studies report different results. I decided to work with my oncologist.

As other have already said. The treatment process with Interferon is brutal, especially the first month of IT. I am now into my seventh month of treatment. For me, I just keep the goal seeing grandchildren whenever I find myself feeling discouraged with the treatment process. I have found that having a positive attitude and looking to a positive future definitely helps.

Posts: 28
Joined: Jun 2010

thank you

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Posts: 28
Joined: Jun 2010


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