At first, Krista Easom figured the little red bump on her foot was nothing more than a blister.
It didn’t hurt, but after a couple months, it didn’t go away either.
She booked an appointment with a dermatologist to have it removed. She wasn’t worried. Easom, a 24-year-old law school student from New Jersey, was healthy, had no family history of cancer and was getting ready to enjoy some time in her newly adopted city of Chicago.
That’s when she received the results from her dermatologist, who removed a part of the blister and had it tested.
It turns out that little red bump was malignant melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer death in the United States. It’s a cancer that kills one person every hour, which translates to more than 8,700 Americans each year.
Further tests revealed that Easom’s melanoma had spread to her lymph nodes, which meant she needed a lymphadenectomy to have them removed. This major surgery includes a five-day stay in the hospital followed by an extensive recovery. About half of the patients who undergo this procedure suffer from wound infections because of the 12-inch incision’s hip-to-thigh location.
Easom and her family looked into her options and she was referred to Northwestern Medicine® surgical oncologists Jeffery D. Wayne, MD and Karl Bilimoria, MD, two of the very few surgeons in the country using a minimally invasive procedure to remove groin lymph nodes. This laparoscopic procedure may drastically reduce the recovery rate and chance of infection for patients like Easom.
“Only a handful of surgeons in the country are doing this and it makes a world of difference to the patient,” said Bilimoria, a surgical oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an assistant professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Instead of a 12-inch scar, this laparoscopic procedure has only three very small incisions that total less than one inch. Because these incisions are so small, the chance of infection is far less. Instead of a five-day stay in the hospital, Krista went home the day after her surgery.”
Lymph nodes are the most frequent site of the spread of metastatic melanoma and surgically removing them is the only potential for a cure, Wayne said.
“Surgery is the only way to make sure we get all of the cancer,” Wayne said. “We want Krista to move on with her life. The minimally-invasive procedure was by far, the quickest and safest way for her to do that.”
Just a few weeks post-surgery, Easom is already on her way. She will have regular check-ups for awhile but her CT scans and blood tests show that the surgery successfully removed all of her cancer. Easom is participating in a national clinical trial to see if this minimally invasive procedure can help other melanoma patients.
The Latest on: Melanoma
Advances in cancer treatment produce encouraging results for melanoma patients
on June 22, 2018 at 12:46 pm
June is always a good month in this part of the world to remind folks of the year-round importance of sunscreen for everyone. It is also a good month to remember to do regular body checks for any unusual skin spots or skin growths that increase in size. […]
MAGE-A3 Immunotherapeutic Fails in Stage III Melanoma
on June 22, 2018 at 12:43 am
An antigen-specific immunotherapeutic known as MAGE-A3 was no better than placebo for the adjuvant treatment of stage IIIB or IIIC melanoma, according to results of a phase III trial. Development of the agent has now been stopped. Despite recent advances ... […]
New therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of resistant malignant melanoma
on June 21, 2018 at 2:26 am
Melanoma in skin biopsy with H&E stain — this case may represent superficial spreading melanoma. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0 A team of researchers led by Dr. Pierre Close, WELBIO researcher at the ULiège GIGA Institute and Dr. Francesca Rapino has ... […]
Researchers uncover new therapeutic opportunity in the treatment of malignant melanoma
on June 21, 2018 at 12:12 am
A team of researchers led by Dr Pierre Close, WELBIO researcher at the ULiège GIGA Institute and Dr Francesca Rapino has uncovered a new therapeutic opportunity in the treatment of malignant melanoma that acquired resistance to targeted therapies. […]
Dr. Ascierto on the COLUMBUS Trial in Melanoma
on June 20, 2018 at 4:18 pm
Paolo A. Ascierto, MD, director of the Unit of Melanoma, Cancer Immunotherapy and Innovative Therapy at the National Tumor Institute Fondazione G. Pascale in Naples, discusses the COLUMBUS trial in melanoma. COLUMBUS was a phase III trial of encorafenib ... […]
Middle-aged men and melanoma risk
on June 14, 2018 at 2:09 pm
"Melanoma is often believed to be 'just another skin cancer,'" says Dr. Svetomir Markovic, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic not involved with the report. "Unfortunately, this is not true." Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells ... […]
Older melanoma patients respond better to immunotherapy
on June 13, 2018 at 9:53 am
June 13 (UPI) --Anti-PD1 immunotherapy was more effective in treating older melanoma patients in a recent study, according to researchers who see potential in better targeting the therapy to younger patients. Researchers found that in each decade, the ... […]
Melanoma Immunotherapy Most Effective in Older Patients
on June 13, 2018 at 7:31 am
A well-aged tumor microenvironment, of the sort found in older cancer patients, may be more susceptible to checkpoint blockade, a form of cancer immunotherapy. This finding, reported by scientists based at the Wistar Institute, suggests that “aging ... […]
Rare melanoma could look like a pimple, dermatologist warns
on June 12, 2018 at 11:12 pm
Depending where you look, skin cancer melanoma rates are higher in Alabama than much of the country, and men are more likely than women to get it. What is likely the deadliest form of melanoma is a sub-type one dermatologist says you may never notice ... […]
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