We are glad you are here at our website. Our organization, Melanoma New Zealand, is devoted to issues associated with melanoma. We want to do what we can to prevent deaths related to melanoma in Auckland.
Over 4000 people in New Zealand are diagnosed with melanoma every single year. The country has the highest rate of melanoma incidences in the world. Hundreds of New Zealand citizens die from it every year.
Melanoma can affect anybody of any age. However, it tends to affect those over the age of fifty. There have been incidents in which young children were diagnosed with melanoma.
We are here to provide information to those who are suffering with melanoma. Feel free to look at the melanoma section of this site. It contains information related to melanoma, such as treatment, prevention and diagnosis.
Getting A Proper Diagnosis
If you think you have melanoma, then see a doctor right away because they will perform a physical examination and a biopsy. A biopsy involves part of a spot or all of the spot being removed and examined at a laboratory. There is a chance that your doctor will refer you to a dermatologists or a surgeon, if they don’t perform biopsies.
Types Of Biopsies
The whole lesion is removed via a diagnostic excision. This procedure leaves a scar. This type of biopsy is recommended by the New Zealand and Australian melanoma guidelines.
There’s a punch biopsy, which is performed with a sharp circular took. The tool may be large enough to remove either part or the whole lesion. After the procedure, there will be a hole, which will be stitched together. A very small scar is usually left behind.
After the biopsy has been performed, the sample will be examined under a microscope. Your doctors will receive the results and the report will let them know if there is melanoma present. The report will also reveal other features, such as regression or mitotic rate and how thick the melanoma is.
Investigating It Further
If your doctor thinks you have melanoma, then they may have you undergo other procedure, which may include blood tests and ultrasounds. Other procedures your doctor may require you to take are MRI and PET scans, as well as CT scans. Your doctor may recommend a sentinel lymph node biopsy or an aspiration biopsy, which is done with a fine-needle.
Blood tests are performed because they provide doctors with information about your liver, kidneys and immune system. A single blood test won’t tell doctors whether the cancer has spread to other areas. This is why additional tests may be given.
A sentinel node biopsy is a test that is used to find out whether the cancer cells have made their way to the lymph system. A fine needle aspiration collects cells to look for a number of conditions, including signs of cancer. The procedure is simple and usually a doctor can perform it right in their office.
An ultrasound is a quick procedure that doesn’t hurt. It involves using high frequency sound waves to create an image of the body part being scanned. A CT scan provided doctors with sliced photos of your body and they can be viewed in 3D from various directions.
MRI scans involve using large magnets to create 3D images of specific organs. Meanwhile, PET scans are used to pick up emissions from tracers, which is a type of sugar that’s injected into the body via a needle. This will reveal where cancer is growing.
The stage the disease is at is determined by how much melanoma has spread, the depth of its penetration and how thick it is. The patient’s outcome is strongly influenced by how advanced melanoma is within their body. Those who are treated for melanoma early have a good chance of surviving and the disease is usually curable, but only when it’s diagnosed and treated early on. When the cancer spreads to various parts of the body, the cancer can be difficult to treat and cure.
As of now, there are a number of treatment options for melanoma patients in Auckland. This includes chemo, surgery and radiotherapy. Immunotherapy is another treatment option. Some treatments may be used alone or with another treatment, but the treatment you receive depends on the stage the disease is at.
1. Surgery- Surgery is usually performed first. It is done to remove tumors. If surgery is done early on, then patients may be cured of the cancer.
2. Radiotherapy- This is a treatment option that involves killing melanoma cells via radiation. It can target just melanoma. This means there’s only minimal damaged caused to healthy tissue. This treatment is usually given over the course of a few weeks.
3. Chemo- The purpose of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells with anti-cancer drugs, and it is designed to stop cancer cells from reproducing and growing. The treatment is sometimes given before surgery, as well as after surgery and it is administered via intravenously. The most common type of chemo used to treat late stage melanoma is dacarbazine, which may not improve the chances of survival.
4. Immunotherapy- This treatment involves a series of drugs that stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer. This form of treatment has been shown to be effective at treating melanoma. If you have melanoma, then ask your doctor about immunotherapy.
Other Treatment Options
There are not many effective treatment therapies for metastatic melanoma. Regardless of that, there has been a lot of advancement in treating the disease. Scientists now have a better understanding of the disease.
There may be a chance that Pharmac will fund those treatments in the future, but as of now they do not. If you suspect you have melanoma, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. They will perform a series of tests.