Important Tip #2
Before starting any surgical or treatment plans (and ESPECIALLY in more advanced disease in which treatments maybe more controversial) – you need to understand your diagnosis and all the various options for your Stage of melanoma.
In other words, before you undergo ANY treatment, you need to do YOUR HOMEWORK and understand YOUR options before deciding with your physician (usually at a 3rd visit) what the plan for YOUR melanoma treatment will be.
Important Information You want to find answers to when doing YOUR Homework” prior to your 3rd (Treatment Phase) physician visit
What seems to be ‘consensus’ for YOUR stage of melanoma ?
Excision, sentinal node biopsy, lymph node removal, etc
What seems to be ‘controversial’ for YOUR stage of melanoma ?
No therapy, adjuvant therapy, radiation, bio-chemotherapy, etc
How do the major melanoma centers approach YOUR stage of disease ?
What is their ‘rationale’ for their suggested therapy
Are the only options for YOUR stage of melanoma ‘clinical trials’ ?
This may apply primarily to advanced stage patients who have already undergone surgery / therapies and are having recurrence of melanoma
Where to go to starting getting the information YOU need
Websites for Melanoma Information
www.nccn.org – National Comprehensive Cancer Network
www.Cancernet.nci.nih.gov – National Cancer Website
www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/melanoma – NCI site
www.melanoma.org – Melanoma Research Foundation
www.mpip.org – Melanoma Patient Information Page
This list does not represent an endorsement of any given website or a complete list of all available resources for melanoma patients
How to approach and organize the information YOU obtain
Make a list of the various treatment options for YOUR stage of melanoma
Compare / contrast how the large melanoma centers treat YOUR stage of disease
Look for consensus in their treatment options
Determine how the various treatment options could affect your life
(ie. Determine side effects of treatment, effect on family, work, lifestyle you are use to)
Make a ‘wish-list’ based on the information / decisions you have reviewed and made
YOUR ideal treatment plan (medical / surgical and length)
YOUR ideal place the treatment will take place
YOUR ideal follow up
YOUR ideal outcome
Prepare this and your list of Questions for your doctor and take to the appointment with you (follow Tip #1 as before too). As this appointment is to talk about YOUR treatment plan – warn your doctor that this will NOT be a short appointment (so they may want to make it the first or last appointment of their day!)