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If cancer has spread to lymph nodes is it still treatable? Very worried!

(25 Posts)
Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 11:30:07

I have a mole on my calf which has grown. My lymph node deep in my grion on the same side has been sore for about 6 weeks. The dermatologist is removing the mole in a weeks time but I'm worried if it is malignant and has spread to the lymph nodes (as they are painful) would it still be treatable?

pallymama Thu 18-Aug-11 11:37:19

I'm not medically trained at all, but i didn't want to read and run. I thought cancer in the lymph nodes was Hodgkins Lymphoma. If so, it is treatable. A friend of mine had it several years ago, and was given the all clear and has had no problems since that I know of.

Hopefully someone more knowledgable will be here soon. Hope you're ok.

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 11:40:18

Thanks for your reply. I was wondering if it was a malignant mole and the cancer had spread to the nearest lymph node which would be my groin.

Mavend Thu 18-Aug-11 11:46:41

I would go back to your GP about the lymph node and see what they say.You don't say if the mole is a malignant one or not??In all probability the two are unconnected,especially if the mole is benign but if you are worrying a visit to the GP would not hurt,and set your mind at rest and also obviously highlighting it to the dermatology consultant.If they were worried they would probably suggest a lymph node biopsy to see whats going on.In the nicest possible way I think you are maybe jumping the gun a little,though I can see how this would be easy to do xx

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 11:49:28

Hiya. Sorry to hear about the situation...has the derm given you any info about what he or she thinks it's likely to be? Or are they just being cautious in removing the mole.

You're right that all cancers can spread to the lymphatic system and this is what you're worrying about. I understand.

Have you any concrete reason to think it is a lymph node which is sore, and not just a muscle strain or similar?
Is it swollen and so on, or just sore?

There is a possibility that you have a malignant mole and it's spread, yes. this is always possible, however it doesn't mean it is likely. Melanoma is still very rare. If the mole is removed and you have the pathology, you will know how deep any malignant cells were found, and that's an important prognosticator for metastasis (or spread). Shallow malignancies rarely spread but deeper ones can.

So you will know more once it's off. 6 weeks seems a long wait - I'd normally recommend you push for a faster appointment especially if you are concerned about this node.

Have you spoken to the dermatologist about the lymph node?

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 11:53:28

actually that's not entirely correct, sorry - there are some skin cancers which do not spread but these are more often found on the face or head (ie basal cell or rodent ulcer).

Melanoma is the scary one. You may well not have it, in fact you're very unlikely to have it, but you are doing the right thing in getting it checked out.

In answer to your original question, yes, it's still treatable once it has spread however it does worsen your prognosis. I know a lot of people who have had lymph node metastasis and survived a very long time before the cancer returns, or it never has returned. Basically if you were found to have positive cells in the node it would be removed along with the rest in that nodal basin, ie your groin on that side. This should significantly reduce the chances of recurrence.

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 11:56:31

Once again sorry for not reading properly, I got confused and now I see you're having it taken off in a week - that's great. You should know pretty quickly then what if anything was going on.

DO mention the groin thing to your dermatologist.

ragged Thu 18-Aug-11 11:58:09

I know someone who had melanoma & then secondaries in the lymph nodes. He's now got 6 or 7 years cancer free. So another 3-4 years to an all-clear.
Lance Armstrong had secondaries in the lymph nodes, methinks?
People learn to live with cancer now, don't they.

Sorry you're so worried OP, but pls. don't google too much. I think you could be on a long road & you mustn't get distracted by maybe-diagnoses, just push for your individual assessments as quickly as possible.

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 12:04:39

That's really good to hear, Ragged. I wonder though about the all clear thing, I don't think this is routinely spoken about wrt melanoma as it is something you rightly say you have to live with. It is something that can be dormant for a very long time indeed.

I hope your friend never has any more bother with it.

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 12:06:48

I saw the dermatologist today and they are taking teh mole off a week today. The biopsy results will be back a couple of weeks after that. It is definately the lymph node which is sore, the dermatologist felt it, she said it could possibly be a result of waxing my legs due to the trauma to the skin.

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 12:07:09

Thanks for all your replies by the way!

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 12:09:23

Oh I see. It's good they are taking it seriously because that's best practise...doesn't mean they are worried though.

She's right, it could indeed be caused by leg waxing or any other trauma or infection type of thing. I'm sorry you are worried, it must be horrid not knowing what's going on.

There is a forum for UK melanoma patients which is easily googleable smile they will support you through the waiting and also further along if it isn't good news. Hopefully it will be ok though.

Good luck!

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 12:14:14

Thanks so much! I'm just worried it's going to be 3 weeks before I find anything out, and then if it is cancerous they will need to do more checks and if it is in the lymphatic system it could have spread during this time couldn't it? confused

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 12:21:04

3 weeks won't make a lot of odds tbh, so don't fret about that. If it's already (just for example) in that node, then it's managed to get into the system already. Nodes are very efficient at keeping things in one place so it isn't likely that having them removed in say a week, or in three weeks or even 6 weeks will affect your chances that much.

Obviously the sooner the better but bear in mind that if it's positive for melanoma, they will likely call you sooner than that anyway, and get you in asap.

There is a limit to how fast things can be activated, in terms of booking you in for surgery and so on so there's nothing at all you can do about that. I don't think you should worry too much about waiting a few weeks though. They will get right onto it if it's malignant. And don't be afraid to ring up and nudge them if you don't hear quickly.

FWIW you will be booked in pretty quickly for a lymph clearance if it's needed, they understand you can't hang about with melanoma.

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 12:23:19

Thinking back, my friend was diagnosed at the end of June, (not this year) and was having a complete node clearance within about 4 weeks, which obviously was traumatic and a big shock, but at least it was action being taken which is what you want if you have a cancer.

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 12:39:21

GloriaVanderbilt - How is your friend now, was the treatment quite intense?

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 12:47:52

Well the treatment was as I said a shock, but the cancer was in a much more risky area so yes it was fairly dramatic.

Once the lymph nodes were gone, they didn't do anything else and waited till it came back. Unfortunately she did have a recurrence, and because it was so aggressive she didn't make it but I wanted to illustrate how quickly they got onto it in the first instance.

They also tried radiotherapy and some chemo but it was too fast for her to get into a trial and trials are your best bet with melanoma. most people have more time than she had, to organise something that could help.

Sorry, I didn't intend to give you a negative story, but they really were very proactive with removing the nodes. She was just unlucky and it was a different picture from the start, a very aggressive version of the cancer and in an unfortunate place which according to the data has a far far worse prognosis than when it's on a limb. I know plenty of people who have had things removed from their legs and arms and been absolutely fine.

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 12:52:55

How awful but thanks for sharing it with me.

I didn't realise that it could stay in your body once it was 'gone', that must be truely terrible to know it could come back at any time.

GloriaVanderbilt Thu 18-Aug-11 12:58:57

Well it's a sneaky one, that's the trouble with it. Most cancers are far more treatable, I mean there are options. Until recently melanoma has been one of the less treatable ones to get.

But there have in the last 6 months been two new licensed drugs proven to increase longevity in unresectable, stage 3 patients (ie people who have recurrence that can't be removed any more by surgery). This is real incredible progress. Things are breaking through the barrier and I would rather have it now than at any other time in the history of medicine.

please don't panic just yet, moles do odd things, as do nodes and it is by no means related. And even if it is dodgy, as I said I know of so many people who have had melanoma in that place and are fine many years later.

A lot depends on where it is. If you have it, you have it in the best location grin

SecondMrsDeWinter Thu 18-Aug-11 13:07:58

I have had non hodgkins lymphoma & the 1st place I noticed lumps was my groin. They were totally painless (as were all my subsequent lumps) and moved about under my skin as though it was a foreign object. I discovered them whilst washing in the bath. You should of course still get it checked out but I just thought that might put your mind at rest. Good luck with your biopsy.

KurriKurri Thu 18-Aug-11 13:43:24

Poor you Joogle, try not to panic at this point though, - you don't have the information yet and your mind is running away with you, - totally natural of course.

I've got breast cancer which spread to my lymph nodes, had the nodes removed and am currently doing OK 3 years later. Yes it isn't the greatest thing in the world knowing it could return, but you have to get with life and put it to the back of your mind.

If its any comfort, when I had the cancer in my nodes, I couldn't feel them and didn't have any pain, when I've had them swell on other occasions due to infection, they have hurt - had some hellishly painful swollen ones in my groin once from a spot in that region.

Hope everything goes well for you smile

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 18-Aug-11 15:05:37

My family has the melanoma gene sad - my Aunt's had spread to the lymph nodes, she had them removed, it came back about two months later, melanoma removed again, no other treatment, three years on, she's still here and fine. She had no pain in her lymph glands, just a swelling. My mother's hadn't spread to her lymph, seven years on, she has been given a cautious all clear, but still has six monthly checkups. My grandmother refused any treatment (she was 97), but had nearly 2 years from initial diagnosis. My uncle's and cousin's weren't picked up until much too late to do anything about it - it had already spread to (I think) the pancreas and liver before it was discovered.

I had a mole removed from my stomach a few years ago, as it had grown alarmingly over a short space of time - I had three weeks of worrying until the results came back, but it was benign, and nothing to worry about at all.

Joogle Thu 18-Aug-11 15:23:58

Thank you all so much for your replies smile

Joogle Sat 20-Aug-11 09:56:01

I went to my GP yesterday about the painful lymph node and she said that if it wasrelated to melanoma it wouldn't be painful confused and that for painful lymph nodes they don't do anything unless there are other symptome too confused it's really achy!

GloriaVanderbilt Sat 20-Aug-11 18:43:15

Oh, golly. Well she sounds helpful grin

Fwiw it could be painful...this is why the forum is so good, it's real people who have experience of the illness. they can tell you how it felt to them iyswim.

Really hope it's nothing. Let us know how you get on.

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