Melanoma info and sites [00501] Medicine On Line

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Melanoma info and sites

I recently read this from <> and thought
some of you might want to read it. Great places to find out more about
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 14:41:01 -0400
To: Multiple recipients of <>
Subject: Draft of Melanoma FAQ-upgraded

Melanoma FAQ


Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, originating in the melanocytes, the skin
cells containing color. Approximately 32,000 cases per year are currently
diagnosed in the United States alone.

This FAQ is intended as an educational aid, and should not be construed as
medical advice. If you or someone you know has melanoma, consult your

1)  What are Stages?

Melanoma is most commonly classified in four Stages, determined by how deeply
the cancer cells have penetrated the body. Stage I involves a mole or growth
on the top layer of the skin. Stage II indicates that the growth is deeper
but has not spread anywhere else in the body. Stage III is when the melanoma
has spread to a nearby lymph basin (the most common) or other nearby tissues.
Stage IV melanoma has spread to other areas of the body. As you would
logically assume, Stage I is less dangerous and easier to treat, and each
higher stage is progressively more serious.

Other systems of staging are also used by some doctors. Ask your doctor about
the definitions of staging he or she may use.

2)  What are the recommended treatments for melanoma?

Surgery is the most common treatment for melanoma, especially for Stages I
through III. Other treatments are also added as needed, and include
chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the

Chemotherapy can either be a systemic treatment, affecting cancer cells all
over the body, or it can be applied in localized techniques called infusion
and perfusion.

Immunotherapy (also known as biological therapy) is designed to help the
immune system to fight off the cancer cells. Interferon and Interleukin are
two forms of immunotherapy. Another form is vaccine therapy, in which the
patient's own tumor cells are made into a vaccine that will cause the
patient's body to make antibodies against melanoma.

Radiation therapy damages the cancer cells, inhibiting their growth. It is a
localized treatment.

Adjuvant therapy is any of the above treatments given after surgery in the
hope of preventing melanoma from recurring, and are usually only given to
patients with Stage II & III. The recent findings with Interferon probably
make it the preferred standard adjuvant treatment option available today

Since some treatments are controversial, melanoma patients should research
all the above therapies as thoroughly as they can before making decisions. In
addition, research shows that patients who "take charge" of their healing,
rather than passively accepting their doctor's advice, have better survival
rates. Seek out the best oncologists, since many times you will not get a
second chance. And get a second opinion - melanoma can be very aggressive, so
another opinion is warranted.

Many specialists recommend that siblings and children of all melanoma
patients be examined by a dermatologist regularly.

3) Where can I find information related to melanoma and melanoma treatments
on the Internet?

*Merck Manual:
l  ---This is a Naturopathic site, so again you can guess where the bias is.
*The Melanoma Patients' Information Page:
*Cancer Bibliography: Documents include the main, unsorted bibliography
(mainbib.dos) and 2 related booklists culled from that bibliography -- books
for children and books for parents.
Address of site: (do not use prefix ftp)
User ID:  anonymous (no password required)
Bibliography will be in the directory (for dos) or the
folder (for Mac) marked:  /pub/cancer.bib
    Mac version asppears as biblio.mac and was created in Word 5.0.  DOS
version appears as biblio.dos and was saved as ASCII text with line breaks.
If you have trouble, send email to: (Lynne Salisbury).
*Cancer Support Mailing List: for patients, family, and caregivers. Get
information about subscribing from:
*To see what melanoma looks like, check out Dr. Arthur C. Huntley's tutorial
designed for medical students.  The pictures effectively illustrate the key
differences between melanoma and other common skin lesions.

5) Where can I find melanoma information offline?

The National Cancer Institute at 800-4-CANCER offers packages of information
about each stage of melanoma. They also can provide a list of active trials
of new therapies.

6)  What about alternative therapies?

Many people are investigating cancer treatments outside of the standard
medical approach. If you are interested in learning more about alternative
medicine, a clearing house for information is:

The Center For Advancement In Cancer Education
Suite 100
300 E. Lancaster Avenue
Wynnewood, PA  19096
(610) 642-4810

The Kushi Institute has been treating cancer patients with diet and lifestyle
for twenty five years. They have a world-wide network of certified
macrobiotic counselors. Get a referral and more information from:

The Kushi Institute
PO Box 7
Becket, MA 01223-0007

7)  What is lymphedema?

Melanoma patients often have lymph involvement. After surgery, radiation, or
chemotherapy to one or more lymph nodes, a secondary problem arises called
lymphedema. The lymphatic fluids that would normally drain to the node are no
longer being served by it, and begin to collect in the nearby tissues,
causing swelling. The health concerns caused by lymphedema are infections and
fibrosis in the affected areas. In addition, it can affect your mobility and
it looks unattractive.

Lymphedema is so much less serious than cancer, that sometimes the doctor may
not think to mention it. Nonetheless, it is extremely important to manage
lymphedema and learn about self-care. Your doctor can refer you to a physical
therapist who specializes in lymphedema. Or get a referral and further
information from:

National Lymphedema Network
2211 Post St #404
San Francisco, CA 94115-3427

8)  What are the best medical treatment centers for melanoma?

John Wayne Cancer Institute, Santa Monica, CA
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

9) What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy?


10)  Is it true that melanoma patients should not take Vitamin C supplements?

The chief imunologist's office at Sloan-Kittering recommends that their
patients not take vitamin C.  They said this is an unpublished report based
on findings in their lab that Vitamin C accelerates melanoma.  Vitamin C
provides a channel for melanin and the amino-acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine is
under suspicion as a "bad guy" in melanoma.  Other major cancer centers
including JWCI see no problem with Vitamin C.

11)  What are the side effects of treatments?

The vaccine generally doesn't have significant side effects. Interferon can
be slightly toxic and some people suffer discomfort, while others notice
little effect. (NEEDS MORE DETAILS)

The Melanoma-Talk FAQ was developed to get much needed information and
resources into the hands of melanoma patients and support people. Excerpts
from contributors responses are attributed. Pointers to WWW resources are
suggested for further investigation. Hopefully, no copyrighted material has
been wrongly reproduced. Upon awareness of any copyright matters we will
remove it and seek the appropriate permission.

I realize this is long, but there are only 70 people on the melanoma-talk
set (only two months old) and I was hoping to help as many people as

thanks, Jim