This is the UnHealth thread, right?
At the end of last year I had a large melanoma cut off my left earlobe, though it was only diagnosed as that afterwards.
@Dunlop can attest to how large it was.
Melanomas that size, overtly growing and ulcerated (as this was) are usually pretty bad news; they are much more likely to spread to other parts of the body and then you are in pretty deep doo-doo.
So far, no spread beyond the earlobe has been identified. I had a PET/CT scan where they inject radioactive sugar into you then look where it has accumulated an hour later: tumours are greedy little buggers and therefore give themselves away by grabbing lots of that sugar. That scan covered the whole body and showed no oddities.
Because the brain also has a sugar fetish, a PET scan is useless there. So an MRI scan (think of that of as a 3D x-ray that displays soft tissue instead of bones) was also done of the brain and head. It showed nothing in the brain.
Have done lots of other stuff at Box Hill Hospital and now Peter Mac: blood tests, checking my many other moles, etc, and earlier this week a “sentinel node biopsy” operation to identify and remove the first lymph node downstream of the original cancer — if it is clear of melanoma cells that is a good indication (combined with the previous tests) that the cancer may have been dumb enough to keep all its eggs in the one basket, which is now chopped off.
During the two hour surgery they also chopped off more ear and removed a couple BCCs (minor skin cancers) elsewhere. I can’t tell you what the trimmed ear looks like because it’s under wraps at the moment!
If that lymph node includes melanoma cells, things get messier. In the worst case that melanoma were to spread to distant parts of the body at some later stage, the last few years have seen a large improvement in treatment options, especially using immunotherapy drugs that are often more effective than radiation or traditional chemo treatment and almost always have lesser side effects.
Anyway, wait till next week for results (done a lot of waiting the last couple months).
… and in other news, my back is soooooo much better after two sessions with an osteopath. Should have done that years ago…