Wednesday, August 15, 2007

If you were told you had Melanoma would you know where to begin?

If you were told today you had Melanoma would you know what to do next, where to go, what doctors to see or how to get a second opinion? I have made many posts sharing some stories, or providing protection tips. I would now like to help point you in the right direction to obtain the best team of doctors you can to fight this deadly disease. Yes, it takes a team, and you are part of the team when you become diagnosed with Melanoma. The best teams include a surgeon, a medical oncologist, a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon and a radiation oncologist and you, the educated patient. In early stages you may only need the first three I have listed (plus yourself of course! ). The more advanced the stage of Melanoma, the bigger the team usually gets.

All team members help make the best decisions for the treatment, and a well armed team member is an educated team member. When my husband was told he had melanoma he turned to me and asked.."what next". Being a registered nurse I knew where we needed to go and how to get the information. If you are comfortable with you doctor you may not need or want a second opinion, but that is always a first option.

The next step is generally to find a good cancer center. The benefit of a cancer center is they frequently have several specialists who work as a "team". If you do not know of a cancer center you can call The Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER. They can direct you to a nearby cancer center.

Another option is to contact a nearby hospital, preferably a medical school and ask for a list of names of specialists.

After being provided with names, go to the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists. This directory lists the doctors names, along with their speciality and educational background. Board certified doctors have more training and education in their speciality and have passed an examination given by their speciality board. You can locate this directory in most public libraries. The American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS) also offers information via the telephone an Internet. The toll free number is 1-866-ASK-ABMS. Their Internet address is:


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