If you’re reading this, you or someone you know has undergone a biopsy or other tests in which the diagnosis of melanoma has been confirmed. First, know that you are not alone. Second, arm yourself with information and resources. Attend a symposium or view a webinar to learn more about your diagnosis and possible treatment options.
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What You Need to Know
- You have been given a diagnosis, not a death sentence.
- Melanoma survival statistics describe a group of similar patients…but they may have nothing to do with your chance of survival.
- Often for melanoma treatment, there is no single answer. Every case is different.
- It is important to be an active participant in your treatment. Be your own advocate.
- Write everything down and take someone with you to doctor’s appointments.
Upon receiving a melanoma diagnosis, you will receive a stage of diagnosis. Your stage helps the melanoma treatment team develop an appropriate plan for you. Your stage will also help determine your prognosis, or outlook. Additional tests, including blood work, bone scans, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans and Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsies may also need to be done to determine your stage.
Be sure that your melanoma treatment team has done the following:
- Given you a stage of diagnosis
- Tested your melanoma for genomic mutations, such as BRAF, KIT, NRAS, etc. (Note: genomic mutations are mutations found in the melanoma tumor that may help guide your treatment)
- Spoken to you about all available treatment options, including those options that are approved by the FDA and those that are currently in clinical trials
- Discussed with you the pros and cons of each treatment option and allowed YOU to make the decision you feel most comfortable with
If you don’t feel comfortable with your diagnosis or treatment team, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
Preparing For Appointments
Take someone with you to your appointments and be prepared with questions to ask your doctor. Write down the answers so you don’t forget. Research shows that patients who bring someone else to their doctor visits better understand their doctor’s advice, are more likely to talk about tough topics and are more satisfied with their doctor.
The Treatment Center Finder will help you find a melanoma treatment center in your area. This is not a doctor recommendation, but these centers have a strong melanoma department and experience with melanoma.