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Recurrant Stage IV Melanoma

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2010


My dad, 50, is currently battling another round of Melanoma. 6 years ago my dad found a nasty mole on his back that the dermatologist biopsied and it came back melanoma. They removed the orignal melanoma and also removed the lympth nodes from under his right arm, which a few came back cancerous. He then underwent interferon and was in remission. My dad in December of this year (well December 2009) went for his 5 year check up. Anyone who knows this disease knows the 5 year benchmark is a big WHEW! He was free and clear of cancer. MRI showed NOTHING! We celebrated. The middle of January this year (yes 2 weeks after this check up) he started to get a cold. He couldn't kick this cold. He went to the doc and they gave him antibiotics twice as well as steriods. The doc finally ordered a chest xray, where they found a substantial mass by his heart.He then went back to his oncologist where further testing showed the mass was about the same size as his heart. He had multiple masses in his lympth nodes and around his lung. The cancer was also in his liver. He started a clinical trial with a drug called diacarbozine (I am not sure if that is how you spell it) which as of 3 weeks ago shrunk the tumor by his heart by 20%, shrunk the one by his lungs and made the rest of them DISAPPEAR! Great right? A week ago my dads shoulder started swelling and his neck on the left side, really bad. He had a fever and was in terrible pain. He went to the doc who ordered a cat scan. The tumor has now grown 30% from the ORIGINAL margins. All of the masses in his chest are back and have grown substantially. The tumor by his heart is reducing his coratid artery by 50%. He went in for an MRI on his head today. The doctor called before he even made it home. He has multiple masses in his brain. He goes Friday to speak with the radiologist about whether or not radiation is an option and what his chances are. If they can shrink the brain tumors he will still have to undergo more potent chemo in which the doctor is saying if they get that far his chance of survival is 20% and that's only if they can shrink the tumors. I guess my question is is what can I expect. If they can't do anything for my dad, how fast is this cancer going to deteriorate his condition. I don't know if he has an options. They've told his numerous times surgery is not an option. I hope that things will work out for the best but the treatments don't seem very promising. And tumors in the brain? What will that do to him??

HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Dec 2009


Until the drug wins FDA approval, Bristol-Myers Squibb is offering it on a compassionate access basis to people with advanced melanoma. More than 1,600 have gotten it. You can learn more about that program at the government's Clinical Trials web site.


In the double-blinded placebo-controlled trial (the highest standard of clinical research), 676 patients with highly advanced melanoma (stage 4) got either the drug or another treatment regarded as mostly ineffective. Those getting "ipi" lived on average for 10 months compared to six months for those not getting it.

A 67 percent survival improvement is significant, but that few months of additional survival mask what really happened with the drug. In 20 percent to 30 percent of patients getting the drug, the response was spectacular — the advanced cancer that had spread through their bodies either dramatically reduced in size, or simply disappeared. The other 70 percent to 80 percent of patients had no response at all.

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