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What to Ask Your Doctor About Stage I Melanoma

When your doctor tells you that you have cancer, it can often be overwhelming. However, it is important to use the time when you are with your doctor to learn as much about your cancer as you can, so that you can gain control of your diagnosis.

 

After a physician tells a patient that they have melanoma the doctor will often explain a number of important details specific to that patient's diagnosis. It is often helpful to bring a friend or family member with you. Friends can lend morale support and help you by asking questions and helping you understand what your doctor has said.

 

The following questions relate to some of the most important aspects of a melanoma diagnosis and can serve as a guide to help you focus on what questions to ask your doctor.

 

Remember, it is ALWAYS okay to ask your doctor to repeat or clarify something they have said so that you can better understand it. 

 

You may find it helpful to print out these questions and bring them with you to your next doctor's visit.

 

  • What criteria did I meet to be diagnosed with Stage I melanoma?
  • Does the biopsy show that all the melanoma was removed or will I need another biopsy?
  • What is the Breslow depth (maximum depth of invasion) of the melanoma?
  • Were there other concerning features on the biopsy such as ulceration or a high mitotic rate?
  • Do you think that we should request a second opinion on the biopsy       specimen to confirm the diagnosis before we proceed with treatment or further work-up?
  • Do I need to have a sentinel lymph node biopsy done?
  • If I need a sentinel lymph node biopsy, how much experience does the surgeon whom you are recommending  have in performing that procedure?
  • Do you recommend that I get a second opinion regarding this procedure?
  • Are there approaches other than surgery that would be appropriate for my melanoma?
  • Based on what you know about my melanoma at this time, what are the chances that the melanoma has spread to other parts of my body?
  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back?
  • What are the chances of my developing a new melanoma?

  • Will I need additional tests or procedures to confirm the stage of my melanoma?

  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?

  • What is my prognosis if I follow this treatment plan?

  • Will you be directing my care and work-up, or will another doctor be overseeing my care?

  • What type of follow-up will I need?

  • What steps can I take to reduce the risk of additional new melanomas? 

General Questions for Stage I 

  • Have you looked at all my other moles and examined my lymph nodes?
  • How frequently show I follow up with you for a skin cancer screening?
  • What steps can I take to reduce my risk of developing another melanoma?
  • What is the risk of my family members developing melanoma?