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What to Ask Your Doctor About Stage III 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 moral support and help you by asking questions, taking notes 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 III melanoma? 
  • What are in-transit metastases? Do I have any in-transit metastases?
  • Is there melanoma in my lymph nodes? How many lymph nodes?
  • How far has my melanoma spread? Do I have any melanoma beyond my lymph nodes?
  • Will I need additional tests or procedures to confirm the stage of my disease?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • Based on what you know about my melanoma at this time, what is my prognosis?
  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back?
  • What are the chances of my developing a new melanoma?
  • Do you recommend a CLND (complete lymph node dissection)
  • How much experience does the surgeon whom you are recommending have treating melanoma and doing CLND?
  • Do you recommend any other surgery?
  • Should I consider the use of adjuvant immunotherapy/targeted therapy to treat my melanoma? Why? Which one? 
  • What are the goals of the treatment?
  • What are the possible side effects of these treatments?
  • Will the treatment influence my ability to work?
  • What are clinical trials?
  • Should I consider enrolling in a clinical trial?
  • Do you participate in any clinical trials?
  • Should I be referred to a center that has clinical trials?
  • Can I use any complementary or alternative therapies?
  • What type of a follow-up will I need?
  • Do I need regular scans?
  • Should I see a dermatologist regularly?
  • What do you recommend regarding sun/UV protection?
  • What is the risk of my family members developing melanoma?