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A melanoma diagnosis can be overwhelming. You will be in shock initially but once the news sinks in, it is important that you learn as much about your diagnosis as you can so that you can participate with your treating clinician in the decisions made as to what happens next.

Knowing the right questions to ask your doctor, deciding whether or not to get a second opinion, and seeking out information about your diagnosis, treatment options and treatment centres are ways of helping you take back some control so that your decisions can be considered and informed.

What to Ask Your Doctor About Your Melanoma Diagnosis

You may find it helpful to print out these questions and bring them with you to your next doctor’s visit. Always try to have a family member or friend accompany you so that they can be an extra pair of ears in the room, possibly taking notes for you. Ask your doctor if you can record his answers for future reference. (Smart phones have this capacity and there are Apps available)

  • Can you go through my Pathology Report and can I have a copy to take away with me?
  • Going through the Pathology Report : What is the size, in millimetres, of the melanoma (Breslow Depth)? Is the melanoma ulcerated? What is the depth of the melanoma (Clark Level)? What is the mitotic rate?
  • What Stage melanoma do I have based on the above information or will I need additional tests/procedures to confirm the Stage?
  • The biopsy showed melanoma, do I have to have wider excision surgery?
  • If so, what is the safe time line to have this surgery?
  • What are the chances of the melanoma returning?
  • How likely is it that the I will have a melanoma recurrence?
  • What are the chances that I will get another primary melanoma?
  • What are my treatment options once the melanoma has been excised?
  • What is my prognosis if I follow this treatment plan?
  • What is the follow-up plan in terms of skin checks, lymph area examinations and/or planned tests/scans?
  • What steps can I take to reduce my risk of developing another melanoma?
  • What is the risk of my family members developing melanoma?
  • Are there clinical trials available for my Stage of melanoma?
  • How do I access these?
Seeking a Second Opinion

It is your right as a patient to get a second opinion if you have reservations about your diagnosis or treatment plan or if information has been poorly communicated to you.Getting a second opinion may help you better understand your diagnosis and or treatment plan. Even though asking a doctor for a second opinion may be intimidating, most doctors treat such requests as routine.

Your specialist or local doctor can refer you to another specialist and you can ask for your results to be sent to the second opinion doctor.

You can ask for a second opinion even if you have started treatment or still want to be treated by your first doctor.

One of the best places to obtain a second opinion is at a Melanoma Unit. At a Melanoma Unit you have access to a multidisciplinary team which includes many cancer experts including dermatologists, surgeons, oncologists, and radiation therapists. Second opinions from a multidisciplinary team at a melanoma unit can provide a very comprehensive review of a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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The 'booty' just keeps on growing for our MPA Gala Dinner on 9 June. Buy your tickets at mpagaladinner2017.eventbrite.com/ and on the night you could be taking home a Soleil Pool Bar Signature Garden Tea for 6 thanks to Rydges Hotels & Resorts, cinema space for 24 at Blue Room Cinebar, a Henry Coughlin Photography experience & print or 4 passes for 9 holes at Holey Moley Golf Club (pic below).

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So many of us confuse palliative care with end of life care, assuming that death is imminent if we are referred to palliative care. Palliative care embodies wholeness, peacefulness and enhanced quality of life-- pain and symptom management so that you can get on with living as well as you can until you can't. Whether this is for a day, a week or a year is irrelevant compared with the relief found when you can let go of fear and despair even for just 1 hour. Please call MPA 1300 88 44 50 in office hours for more information. #npcw
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Wesley Research Institute
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Mail: info@melanomapatients.org.au

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