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Old-timer seeking advice

Old-timer's picture
Old-timer
Posts: 196
Joined: Apr 2011

Please forgive me for posting this item about melanoma on this discussin board. I have also posted it on the skin cancer board. I think my friends on this board may be interested in seeing it.

My wife is in reasonably good health, at age 93. Biopsy of a spot on her arm says she has melanoma. We received this report by phone from a dermatologist two days ago. We have an appointment to see an oncologist Monday. We plan to get a second opinion and talk with other doctors.

We have many questions, such as "How fast is the cancer likely to spread if not treated?" "What treatment do you think my wife should consider?" My wife will make that decision, of course. My role will be to support her.

We welcome your thoughts concerning this.

Dealing with cancer is not a new experience in my family. I am a long-term survivor of prostate cancer. The prostate cancer discussion board has been helpful to me.

Old-timer

 

Bill91101
Posts: 60
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Old timer,
I had a run-in with melanoma in 2012. During my annual skin check my dermatologist found a little spot on the back of my leg, removed it and sent it in for a biopsy. I got the phone call a few days later that it was melanoma.
I had Moh’s surgery on the area. This was done at the dermatologist’s office – local anesthesia; I was on my stomach for a little while, chatted with the doctor and the nurse during the procedure. Basically, some of the flesh around the spot was removed, and the wound stitched up. I had to (well my wife did) keep the area clean and replace the bandage after I showered in the mornings until the wound healed.
The goal of the surgery was to remove the cancer and then some of the tissue underneath to ensure that the cancer was eliminated.
No problems since. I had my six-month skin check at the beginning of June. Three precancerous moles were frozen off by the dermatologist, but no signs of melanoma.
I am not familiar with any other methods used to treat melanoma.
Here is a link which might be useful:
https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/mohs-surgery/step-by-...
I hope things can work out as easily for your wife!
Good luck and keep us posted on what happens.
Great to see that you are still hanging in there, too.
Bill

Old Salt
Posts: 720
Joined: Aug 2014

Melanoma, like prostate cancer, is staged and treatment is based on the staging.

See https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer.html

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3249
Joined: May 2012

Old-Timer,

I don't know a lot about melanomia, except that it is the more aggressive skin cancer (more so than Basal cell).  Most single spots can be safely removed surgically.  Spots with some root detected can be radiated or frozen. 

Metastatic forms require Interferon, the same drug used against Hepatitis C, sometimes with chemo added.

So what lies ahead is directly linked to the staging.  You know very well that everyone here is pulling for good news next week,

max

Old-timer's picture
Old-timer
Posts: 196
Joined: Apr 2011

We appreciate the information and your reassuring thoughts. We are learning a lot about melanoma. Based on what we are learning, it feels as though this will be just a bump in the road for us. We'll let you know what we learn from the oncologist Monday. We have made plans to get a second opinion but do not yet have an appointment confirmed.

It seems strange, but we have not yet received the biopsy report in writing. The examining office refused to send it electronically. They are sending it by mail; it has not yet arrived. That's an aggrevation, but we can live with it.

Old-timer (Jerry)

Old-timer's picture
Old-timer
Posts: 196
Joined: Apr 2011

The oncologist gave a convincing one-hour description of what is happening and gave my wife a choice of two treatments. (1) Remove the melanoma from her arm and let the wound heal. (2) Same as # 1, plus: Biopsy a lymph node.

He seems to recommend option # 2; however, he does not think the melanoma has moved beyond the spot on her arm. Considering her age, option # 1 might take care of the problem.

We are making arrangements to get a second opinion.  

Old-timer

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3249
Joined: May 2012

Old-Timer,

In general, it sounds like the oncologist does not view your wife's situation as advanced or dangerous.

I would do the lymph node in addition to the surgical removal of the spot. This will not be a lot more cutting, but will yield more awareness.  It most likely will just involve a bit more healing time.

 

There are not a lot of nodes in the extremeties (arms and legs), and Lymphoma patients virtually never feel enlarged nodes there, even with advanced disease. I asked why this is, and the Nurse Practiciner said that nodes in the extremities are ordinarily situated too deep below muscle to be felt there.  So there might be a bit of "digging," but I still feel that more evidence is better than less,

max

 

 

 

VascodaGama's picture
VascodaGama
Posts: 2965
Joined: Nov 2010

I am sorry for the news on your wife's melanoma case. I hope it all resolves in your favor. At her age I would chose something not very invasive if possible.

I do not know much about melanomas but this cancer is evident among foreigners from northern countries living in my area (southern Portugal) due to too much exposure to sun UV. Locals rarely are affected probably for their skin's adaptation to the environment since birth (?). I am risking the same fate as my hobby now is my orchard and veggie garden, exposed to the sun, and where I spend most of the time. In any case, it has been found that skin cancer can be genetic and hereditary.

Best wishes for both of you.

VG

ramaka
Posts: 55
Joined: Mar 2017

Wishing you and your wife only the best, Old Timer! 

Old-timer's picture
Old-timer
Posts: 196
Joined: Apr 2011

My family members met with the oncologist yesterday. We had assurred my wife that her vote was the only one that would count. After lengthy explanations by the oncologist and questions from us, the decision: remove the melanoma from the arm. Do not remove nor look into lymph nodes. My wife made that decision. All us, including the oncologist, agreed. Age, of course, was a factor in making this decision.

The surgery will be done in the doctor's office. My wife will go home shortly thereafter.

Thank all of you for your good wishes and encouragement. I'll give you a follow-up report after surgery.

Old-timer

Old Salt
Posts: 720
Joined: Aug 2014

and good wishes to you both

Old-timer's picture
Old-timer
Posts: 196
Joined: Apr 2011

I am happy to report that surgery was successful. The wound has healed and the scar can be easily concealed by the blouse sleeve. The oncologist wants to see her again in three months.

Thank you folks for your good thoughts and words of encouragement and support. Best wishes to you.

Regarding my prostate cancer, I will get an updated PSA reading and meet with my urologist in September. I expect all continues to be OK. I'll give you a report at that time.

Harvest season is approaching; I wish all of you abundant crops.

Old-timer (Jerry) 

Bill91101
Posts: 60
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Jerry,
Glad to hear that all went well with your wife’s melanoma treatment!
Give her my best.
I had my melanoma removed in 2012 and haven’t had a recurrence. I get checked every six months.
Bill

VascodaGama's picture
VascodaGama
Posts: 2965
Joined: Nov 2010

Thanks for sharing the results. Best wishes to you and your wife.

Yes you are right. Everything has grown well in my orchard. Melons were smaller than the last year but tomatoes were more delicious. Plenty of peaches, plums and apricots. Next will be Figs, Carobs and Almonds. How about helping me here? I will meet you at Lisbon Airport.

Congratulations for the success.

VG

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