After reviewing the test results, the oncologist tells Stefani that her cancer is stage III melanoma. He explains that tumors have spread beyond the lymph nodes that were removed to additional sites and developed metastasis or satellites in parts of the body near the tumor.
Stage III melanomas are defined by four primary characteristics:
Number of lymph nodes to which the tumor has spread.
Whether the primary tumor that is the source of lymph node spread shows evidence of ulceration.
Stage III melanoma is considered to be intermediate to high-risk and will require significant treatment. Stefani will need a lymphadenectomy to remove the other affected lymph nodes. Once healed, Stefani will begin chemotherapy with a medication called Dacarbazine; which will be administered daily for five to ten days, every three to four weeks, for 6 cycles. While on chemotherapy Stefani could experience nausea or vomiting; an inability to fight infection; flu like symptoms; unusual bleeding; easy bruising; light-headiness; a rapid heart rate; shortness of breath; loss of appetite; diarrhea; hair loss and/or a skin rash.
Following Stefani’s treatment, she will need to be examined yearly to be certain the cancer has not returned but also change her mindset that tanned skin is more beautiful. This can be overwhelming and may leave Stefani with a sense of loss, hopelessness or sadness. If she does experience these feelings, there are resources to help. Also, if new lesions are identified, they will need to be removed and biopsied. If additional melanomas are found, Stefani may again face surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Internet Research: How does cancer spread beyond the lymph nodes / system?
Internet Research: What are the four (or five, depending on the reference) stages of cancer that the oncologist used to determine Stefani’s melanoma classification? Research the stages and record the differences between each.
Internet Research: What resources exist for people to help cope with a cancer diagnosis and the emotional symptoms that come with it?
Metastasis: A secondary cancer growing at a distant site.
(“Metastasize.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 05 August 2014.)
Satellite: A secondary cancer growing at a nearby site.
(“Satellite.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.)
Microscopic: Unable to be seen by the naked eye; requiring a lens or microscope to see clearly.
(“Microscopic.” TheFreeDictionary.com. The Free Dictionary, n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.)
Macroscopic: Able to be seen by the naked eye.
(“Macroscopic.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.)
In transit: Located between the primary tumor and the closest lymph node region.
(“Melanoma Center – Staging Melanoma – Stage 3.” Melanoma Center, N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.)
Ulceration: A condition in which the skin that covers part of the primary melanoma is not intact.
(“Ulceration.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.)
Lymphadenectomy: A surgery to remove lymph nodes. Lymphadenectomy is also done to remove melanoma that has spread only to the lymph nodes and to prevent melanoma from spreading farther (metastasizing).
(“Lymph Node Removal (Lymphadenectomy) for Melanoma.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.)
Dacarbazine: A medication that belongs to the group called alkylating agents. It is used to treat cancer of the lymph system and malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer). It may also be used to treat other kinds of cancer, as determined by your doctor.
(“Dacarbazine.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2014.)
Lesion: A pathologic change in tissue.
(“Lesion.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 05 June 2014.)