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How Long Can You Live With Melanoma

How Do I Know If I Should Keep Getting Treatment

How long can I expect to live? What is my prognosis with pancreatic cancer? (Douglas Evans, MD)

How much is treatment helping?

For some people, getting cancer treatment helps them feel better and stronger. It also helps control the cancer so they can live longer. But for others, being in treatment works the opposite way they may reach a point where it only makes them feel worse. Side effects might keep you from enjoying the life you have left. Only you can decide how you want to live your life. Of course, youll want to know how your family feels about it, too. Their feelings are important since they are living through the cancer with you. But keep in mind, the final decision is yours.

Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?

When a person has had many different treatments that didnt help stop the cancer, it may mean that its become resistant to all treatment. At this time you might want to weigh the possible limited benefit of a new treatment against the possible downsides, including the stress of getting treatment and the side effects that go with it. Everyone has a different way of looking at this. Talk to your cancer care team about what you can expect from treatment. They can help you make the best decision for yourself and your family.

Sleepiness And Difficulty Waking

People who are dying often sleep a lot. They might not respond when you try to wake them. But this doesnt mean they cant hear you. Hearing may be one of the last senses to be lost.

So it is important not to stop talking to them and comforting them. You can sit close to them and hold their hand.

It is important not to say anything that you wouldnt want them to hear. It’s also a good idea to tell them when you go into or leave their room.

Knowing What To Expect In The Final Days Or Hours Helps Comfort The Family

Most people don’t know the signs that show death is near. Knowing what to expect can help them get ready for the death of their loved one and make this time less stressful and confusing. Healthcare providers can give family members information about the changes they may see in their loved one in the final hours and how they may help their loved one through this.

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When To Seek Medical Advice

Read about the symptoms of bowel cancer, and when you should see your GP to discuss whether any tests are necessary.

Your doctor will probably carry out a simple examination of your tummy and bottom to make sure you have no lumps.

They may also arrange for a simple blood test to check for iron deficiency anaemia this can indicate whether there is any bleeding from your bowel that you haven’t been aware of.

In some cases, your doctor may decide it is best for you to have a simple test in hospital to make sure there is no serious cause for your symptoms.

Make sure you return to your doctor if your symptoms persist or keep coming back after stopping treatment, regardless of their severity or your age.

Read more about how bowel cancer is treated and living with bowel cancer

Difficulty Swallowing Or Not Wanting To Eat Or Drink At All

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There will come a time when the dying person won’t want to eat or drink anything. It is important not to try and force them to eat or drink. This will make them uncomfortable.

You can give them small pieces of ice to suck or sips of fluid, if they are still awake. This will keep their mouth moist. You can put lip balm on their lips to help stop them getting dry and sore.

Even if they cant take anything into their mouth, you can moisten their lips and mouth every 1 to 2 hours with lemon and glycerine swabs or water. Your GP or district nurse can get you the swabs.

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When Melanoma Can’t Be Cured

If your cancer has spread and it is not possible to cure it by surgery, your doctor may still recommend treatment. In this case, treatment may help to relieve symptoms, might make you feel better and may allow you to live longer.Whether or not you choose to have anti-cancer treatment, symptoms can still be controlled. For example, if you have pain, there are effective treatments for this. General practitioners, specialists and palliative care teams in hospitals all play important roles in helping people with cancer.

Skin Cancer Can Look Like Many Things Therefore People Can Go Long Periods Of Time Without Recognizing That They Have A Skin Cancer Says Dr Steven Musick Md A Board Certified Dermatologist Who Runs Musick Dermatology Llc In Swansea Il Which Provides State

Not only can skin cancer mimic many benign conditions such as pimples and skin barnacles, but a tumor can develop in areas that are difficult to inspect or that are not considered during a persons self-skin exam.

For example, it would be difficult for one to examine their scalp unless theyre bald. Inside the ears is another hard-to-visualize location.

And then there are areas that people wouldnt think to check, such as between their butt cheeks, inside their belly button, between their toes, the soles of their feet and even the pupils of their eyes.

Yes, melanoma can grow in the pupils and go unnoticed for long periods of time.

Melanoma, along with squamous cell carcinoma, can also pop up internally, including within the genitals, mouth, nose and lungs.

Another factor that influences how long a person can have skin cancer and not know it is where they live.

If they live in a Third, and especially Fourth, World nation, they can have a basal cell carcinoma that goes undiagnosed for many years due to lack of skin cancer awareness campaigns and adequate skin cancer screenings.

However, this type of tumor will continue progressing, though very slowly it wont stop growing just because its untreated.

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Cancer Scoring To Predict How Long Patients Have Left To Live

Accurate: The new system will enable patients to have a better idea of how long they have left to live

Doctors have developed a scoring system that can give cancer patients a reliable idea of how long they have left to live.

The aim is to help the terminally ill and their carers to plan for the future.

A study of more than 1,000 patients found the system was at least as accurate as clinicians at predicting whether they were likely to survive for days, weeks or months.

Dr Paddy Stone, from St Georges, University of London, said: Patients with advanced cancer and their carers often wish to know how long they have left to live.

Accurate information can allow patients adequate time to prepare for their impending death.

The information is also important for planning appropriate medical care.

Clinicians predictions of survival are the mainstay of current practice, but can be unreliable, over-optimistic and subjective, say the researchers.

So Dr Stones team set out to develop a scoring system for use in patients with advanced cancer in different care settings that was as good, or better, than clinicians best predictions.

The study, published online in the British Medical Journal, involved 1,018 patients with advanced incurable cancer who were no longer receiving treatment and had recently been referred to palliative care services across the UK.

The Braf Gene Mutation And Melanoma

How long do you live after being diagnosed with colon cancer? – Dr. Parameshwara C M

Roughly half of all documented melanoma cases present with mutations in the BRAF gene. The melanoma cells that have these changes create a BRAF protein, which aids them in their growth. If a person with the BRAF gene mutation has melanoma, knowing about the mutation is of great benefit for treatment because healthcare providers can use targeted therapy to inhibit the BRAF gene mutation from aiding in the growth of the cancer.

If a diagnosis of melanoma is already established, the healthcare provider will look at two factors to determine how advanced a stage 4 melanoma has become: the location of the distant tumors and an elevated level of serum lactate dehydrogenase , which is an enzyme responsible for turning sugar into energy. The higher the LDH level in body fluids, the more damage the cancer has done.

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Metastatic Melanoma: A Wife Reflects On Husband’s Shocking Diagnosis

My husband, Steve, was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma in January 2012 at age 34. We have two daughters, ages 2 and 10. He had just started a job working from home and our life seemed to be going so smoothly. I had had some minor health issues that prevented me from working and Steve’s new job enabled me to stay home and focus on getting better. One day in December 2011, Steve asked me to feel a strange lump on his neck. It was directly above his right clavicle and was swollen to about the size of an egg. I immediately started scouring the Internet to see if I could figure out what was going on. After a few minutes, I determined it was a supraclavicular lymph node. Everything I read about the right supraclavicular lymph node pointed to cancer or a very bad infection. Steve had just gotten over a cold, so I was hoping it had something to do with that. After a few days, it had not gone down. At this point he began to get worried, too, so we decided to go to the ER.

Patients May Not Want To Eat Or Drink In The Final Days Or Hours

In the final days to hours of life, patients often lose the desire to eat or drink, and may not want food and fluids that are offered to them. The family may give ice chips or swab the mouth and lips to keep them moist. Food and fluids should not be forced on the patient. This can make the patient uncomfortable or cause choking.

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A Number Of Physical Changes Are Common When The Patient Is Near Death

Certain physical changes may occur in the patient at the end of life:

  • The patient may feel tired or weak.
  • The patient may pass less urine and it may be dark in color.
  • The patients hands and feet may become blotchy, cold, or blue. Caregivers can use blankets to keep the patient warm. Electric blankets or heating pads should not be used.
  • The heart rate may go up or down and become irregular.
  • Blood pressure usually goes down.
  • Breathing may become irregular, with very shallow breathing, short periods of not breathing, or deep, rapid breathing.

However, these signs and changes don’t always occur in everyone. For this reason, it may be hard to know when a patient is near death.

Treatments For Advanced Melanoma

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In most cases, treatment can’t cure advanced melanoma. But some can help you live longer and feel better. The goal of any therapy you get will be to shrink or remove your tumor, keep the cancer from spreading further, and ease your symptoms.

Surgery. This is the main way to remove melanoma from the skin and lymph nodes. You might also have an operation on organs where the cancer has spread. Thereâs no guarantee your surgeon will get all of it. Some melanoma is too small to see, even with high-tech scans.

Radiation. Your doctor might recommend radiation to kill any cancer cells that have been left behind after surgery or if melanoma spreads to your brain or bones. It can also relieve pain from the disease or treat melanoma that comes back over and over.

Immunotherapy or biologic therapy. These drugs help your immune system find and attack cancer cells. Depending on the ones you take, you might have to go in for treatment every 2, 3, or 4 weeks.

Your doctor might want you to take more than one drug. Some studies show that people who do have fewer side effects.

The flip side of immunotherapy is that sometimes these drugs cause your immune system to attack healthy organs. Then youâd need to stop melanoma treatment and take drugs to stop the attack.

Chemo can shrink the cancer, but chances are it will start growing again after a few months and youâll need more treatment. Immunotherapy and targeted therapy usually work better.

Other side effects include:

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Paying For Cancer Treatment

Finances are often a very real concern for people with cancer. Treatment costs a lot. Hopefully, you have been able to keep your health insurance. Sometimes there are insurance options that people with cancer may not be aware of. Talk to your cancer care team, your facilitys financial counselors, or a social worker. You can also call us for help finding possible sources of financial assistance.

Drugs Can Target Your Type Of Tumor

If your melanoma tumor has one of the gene mutations we mentioned, your oncologist may start with a drug that targets specific proteins in the mutation. Depending on which mutation your melanoma tested positive for, your oral drug options include: BRAF inhibitors including Zelboraf , Tafinlar , and Braftovi MEK inhibitors such as Mekinist , Cotellic , and Mektovi and C-KIT inhibitors, which include Gleevac and Tasigna . Because BRAF and MEK mutations are closely associated, research has shown that combining the two types of drugs may yield better results.

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Support For Your Caregivers

Your loved ones might also need help coping. Having a family member or friend with metastatic cancer is challenging, especially for people who help care for you. They can try the ways of coping above. Or your health care team can suggest other tips. For example, there are in-person and online support groups for family members of people with cancer.

When Do Signs And Symptoms First Appear

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Typically, cancer signs and symptoms first appear when the cancerous tumor or mass has grown large enough that it begins to push against nearby organs and tissue, blood vessels, and nerves.

This can lead to pain, a change in how the nearby organs function, or both. A brain tumor pressing against the optic nerve will affect vision, for example.

Some cancers are fast moving, such as liver and pancreatic cancers. Prostate cancer, however, is usually slow moving. This is why many older men with prostate cancer forego treatment theyre more likely to die with prostate cancer than because of it.

Screenings for certain cancers should be part of your normal preventive healthcare. These include cancers of the:

  • prostate
  • cervix
  • skin

Your age, sex, family history, and your own medical history will dictate when routine screenings should begin and how often they should be done.

If youre concerned about symptoms associated with various cancers, then you shouldnt hesitate to see your doctor. You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

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General Survival Rate Information

Five-year and ten-year survival rates tell you what percent of people live at least five years and ten years, respectively, after the cancer is found.

Statistics on the survival rates for people with melanoma are based on annual data from past cases and over multi-year timeframes.

Because treatments for melanoma are more successful in early stages, it is informative to look at survival rates based on stage and stage subgroups rather than on the cancer as a whole.

It is important to remember that survival rates do not predict an individuals survival. Every person and every case are different, and many factors contribute to an individuals survival. Its also important to remember that new and successful treatments have emerged over the last few years, and survival rates have increased in Stage III and Stage IV melanoma.

Whats The Outlook For Stage 4 Melanoma

Once the cancer spreads, locating and treating the cancerous cells becomes more and more difficult. You and your doctor can develop a plan that balances your needs. The treatment should make you comfortable, but it should also seek to remove or slow cancer growth. The expected rate for deaths related to melanoma is 10,130 people per year. The outlook for stage 4 melanoma depends on how the cancer has spread. Its usually better if the cancer has only spread to distant parts of the skin and lymph nodes instead of other organs.

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The Cycle Of Recurrence And Remission

Most chronic cancers cannot be cured, but some can be controlled for months or even years. In fact, theres always a chance that cancer will go into remission. There are different kinds of remission.

  • When a treatment completely gets rid of all tumors that could be measured or seen on a test, its called a complete response or complete remission.
  • A partial response or partial remission means the cancer partly responded to treatment, but still did not go away. A partial response is most often defined as at least a 50% reduction in measurable tumor. Here, when we refer to a remission it will generally mean a partial remission.

To qualify as either type of remission, the absence of tumor or reduction in the size of the tumor must last for at least one month. Theres no way to tell how long a remission will last, so remission does not mean the cancer definitely has been cured.

Some cancers , have a natural tendency of recurrence and remission. Often, this repeating cycle of growing, shrinking, and stabilizing can mean survival for many years during which the cancer can be managed as a chronic illness. Treatment can be used to control the cancer, help relieve symptoms, and help you live longer.

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