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Thread: Just had surgery for MM, took out Lymphnodes??

  1. #1
    Newbie New User
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Just had surgery for MM, took out Lymphnodes??

    Hey there. New to the site and am excited to be on here there seems to be a lot of information and things I can relate with. I found a funny mole on the left side of my upper back a little over a month ago and they did a biopsy at my primary doctors office and they could not make anything out so they sent it to UCLA and it came back as malignant melanoma. They set a date very quickly to get me in and have surgery done.

    Before my surgery they took me into radiology and put four needles of a radioactive sugar serum into the mole in my back that was supposed to go to my nearest lymph nodes that are in my arm pit. What showed up on the screen was too bright blue dots. I just thought that they needed to know where my lymph nodes were so dumb me did not ask any questions. They took me in directly back to the prep room and straight in to the operating room. When I was coming out of anesthesia I could not feel my back but my armpit hurt extremely bad. When I came more out of it they told me they took out two nodules. The doctor did not go into the waiting room and tell my husband exactly how the operation went he just called and said that everything came out clean. And that was that I went home.

    Then I started thinking that if they suspected cancer and it's spreading to my nodules then they would have just done a biopsy on it right then and if I needed to then come in for the surgery. But they went ahead and took out two nodules? Now I am freaking out and the day I had my follow up appointment I was still really out of it but my family went down to New Mexico because my husband's mother was not doing too well. So I was just on the couch recovering. I missed my follow up appointment because I was still on a lot of medication. So now I don't go in until next Tuesday. I am thinking whatever way the tests came back of my nodules they would not tell me either positive or negative until I went in for my follow up? And just does not seem right to me that they would just take them out because if you take out nodules it really can mess up a lot of things in your body like Edema and a lot of other things. So I am trying not to freak out as hard as it is but I am wondering if it had spread through my body to my nodules and that's why they had to take them out. Has anybody else experienced this at all? I'm just wondering why my doctor told me why he took out my nodules, that's it.

    Thank you so much for reading and any help would be extremely appreciated. I can't even call the office until Monday so some advice good or bad would be great. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your group. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. #2
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Hi Nocancer4me,

    It doesn't sound like your doctor did a very good job communicating exactly what was going on and what type of procedure you were having and why.

    Please don't hold me to this as I am not a doctor, but from what you've written here, it sounds like they did surgery to remove the melanoma and did a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) at the same time. The SLNB does NOT mean the melanoma has spread to those nodules. It is done as a method to check to see whether or not the melanoma may have spread. These are not uncommon when there are indications for it, which can include a melanoma that is at least 1 mm thick, the presence of ulceration, and other things. When melanoma spreads, it does so through the lymph glands or blood. The SLNB injection lights up (blue) at the primary nodes along the lymphatic pathway your melanoma would likely have taken. Therefore, if those nodes return negative on biopsy, it makes it less likely that your melanoma has spread.

    Does that make sense? The removal of 1 or 2 lymph nodes rarely leads to edema. You are probably thinking of lymphadenectomy, when they remove the entire packet of lymph nodes in a certain area, something that is often done when some of the lymph nodes are found to be positive for cancer, which is determined by the biopsy. A lymphadenectomy can lead to complications like edema. It is much less likely with just the 1 or 2 nodes. I personally have mild swelling in my right foot off and on since my SLNB in the right inguinal area, but I get the feeling from my oncologist that my reaction is fairly uncommon.

    Try not to freak out! The fact that the doctor said everything came out clean likely means he/she was able to remove the melanoma with clear margins (a good thing!). On your followup visit, he will discuss your biopsy results, how thick the melanoma was and other characteristics, and will tell you the results of the SLNB, though again I would not spend too much time worrying that those nodes will be positive since they often come back negative, too. Once you know your staging, you will know better how to proceed, and all of that will be discussed on your followup.

    Please, please don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure you are able to understand exactly what is being done and why. It sometimes helps to have a family member or friend go along to help ask questions. It can be so hard to hear or remember or even understand the complicated doctor-speak when we are anxious to begin with. So it can definitely help to have a friend or family member there to be a second set of ears!

    Good luck to you! I hope you'll come back and update us all on how things are going.

    Vulvar mucosal melanoma, superficial spreading type, stage I-II, depth 1 mm with regression
    Radical right-sided hemivulvectomy, clitorectomy and bilateral sentinel lymph node biopsies, May 2013, lymph nodes clear
    PET CT, NED, July 2013
    Partial left hemivulvectomy/reconstructive surgery Oct 2013, found melanoma in situ on pathology, out to margins
    November/January - Underwent 9 vulvar biopsies to try to locate the MIS for surgical excision, unsuccessful
    May 2014 - Third vulvectomy/second left hemivulvectomy for wide local excision of MIS, MIS not identified on pathology
    PET CT, still NED, June 2015
    PET CT, NED, June 2016
    No sign of recurrence, January 2019


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