A gentleman walked into our centre one morning last week (December 2017). I could not recognise him.
Watch this video.
Oh yes, this is Guat’s husband. He told me Guat is doing fine. The last time I met Guat was in August 2013.
What is so special about this case? Yes, very special. Guat is one of three patients who had melanoma or skin cancer that has spread to the lung. This type is rare in our country.
You can read more about Guat below:
Guat was 53 years old then. In 2006, she had been coughing out blood for the whole year. A CT scan on 9 October 2007 showed 2 focal cavitating lesions at the right upper lobe and left lower lobe of her lung, suggestive of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB).
But a biopsy performed later showed it was a malignant melanoma (skin cancer).
The doctor told Guat that her condition was very serious. She had a Stage 4 cancer. The doctor also said, In my 15 years of experience, this is the only case that I have seen.
According to the doctor this cancer originated from a mole. Guat went home and searched her entire body but could not find any mole.
The doctor told Guat that her condition was very serious and suggested chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Guat refused medical treatments and came to seek our help on 2 November 2007. And according to her husband this morning, Guat is still healthy and very much alive after 10 years!
Melanoma is a deadly disease for which chemotherapy or radiotherapy does not seem to be effective. We are really lucky that it is a rare disease – at least in Malaysia. Over the 20 plus years dealing with cancer patients, we encountered less than a dozen cases of melanoma.
What the medical literature says about metastatic melanoma
A research reported in J Med Life. 2014 Oct-Dec; 7(4): 572–576. said:
- The prognosis of patients with metastatic MM is grim, with a 5-years survival rate between 5-19%, and is dictated by the location and the number of metastases.
- Between 2008 and 2013, 155 patients with cutaneous MM were diagnosed in our clinic.
- 5% of the patients developed metastases in different organs, especially the brain.
- 6% of those with metastases died during the study (5 years).
- The median overall survival, estimated for the entire group of patients who developed metastases, was of 5.3 months.
Is there a cure for stage 4 metastatic melanoma?
Stage 4 melanoma means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, or other organs and tissue. It may have also spread to lymph nodes. As such, stage 4 melanoma is often hard to cure with current treatments.
The five-year survival rate is only about 15 to 20 percent.
Being such a late stage melanoma, the metastatic stage has a 10-year survival rate of less than 10% (NIH 2009), with a life expectancy of 2-7 months, depending on the number of organs the cancer has spread to (Treatment Trials 2010).