Home / Melanoma  / How should I put my melanoma survival in perspective?

Q:  I’ve had a melanoma that penetrated about 3 mm into the dermis of my leg. It was removed but micro cells were discovered in sentinel lymph node biopsies in my groin and knee. I went thru standard Interferon treatments and it’s now been more than 6 years since my surgery to remove it from my leg. I do go to a Dermatologist annually and there are no obvious signs of recurrence. I feel fine but the survival statistics plus biopsies make it hard to forget that it could have spread and is lurking in places unknown. Is there anything else I should be doing to better understand if there are internal complications I just am unaware about or is it better to just think positively and not dwell on it. All usual blood tests so far are fine.

-Seattle, WA

A:  While you can never put it completely behind you, the risk of recurrence steadily falls with each passing year.  Eventually, your risk of developing a second melanoma (one that is completely new) is actually going to be higher than the risk of your first one coming back, which is why your dermatologist is going to want to see you every year for the rest of your life.

From your post, it sounds like you received appropriate treatment and are following up appropriately.

Right now, there aren’t additional tests that provide you any more information on your risk of recurrence.

Dwelling on it day to day, I think, is more likely to give you a mood disorder than help you in any way.  The things you can do are to look for ugly ducklings or changing moles, practice safe sun behavior, and continue to see a good dermatologist.

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