Melanoma treatment options
I just had my ill-tempered melanoma removed last Friday at Moffitt in Tampa. I had two SLN taken out around my left ear, as well as a skin graft taken from my thigh.
I will be meeting with my surgeon next week to discuss the LN biopsies. In the meantime I have been reading a lot of books (like "Rebel Cell" which I recommend) and articles and (watching) videos.
FWIW I typically only use known, reliable sites like Mayo, Moffitt, AIM At Melanoma, CureMelanoma, etc.
If I am found to have either stage 3 or 4 melanoma, I presume that the team will refer me to an oncologist to discuss treatment. I have been reading a lot about drugs like Opdivo, Keytruda and Yervoy. I think I *get* the idea behind immunotherapy (IMTH), and realize that it may be the current best option.
I cannot deny that the side effects are daunting, and it is still unclear to me that these treatments really extend life much, with some exceptions.
See e.g. here: https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/melanoma-treatment-side-effects
Here are some questions:
1. What happens if I decline immunotherapy and simply get quarterly checkups?
(other than dying of cancer eventually)? Will my next N years have a better
quality of life, or not? Some side-effects that are mentioned (like onset of
diabetes) seem pretty bad.
2. I believe I understand that PET or CT scans are typically used to try and
determine if the IMTH is working. Is that true? Would that be the next
step after being declared stage 3? Are subsequent scans like those used
as the "proof" that the IMTH is working? If not how is melanoma "detectable"
after it has been excised from where it was first found?
I want to have a positive mental attitude, but doesn't anyone else ask: is it worth it?