I'm a new member here and i just thought I'd say hello. Not knowing much about skin cancer until now, I had a large mole (13mm) that I put off seeing the doctor about for far too long. I never really noticed the change in it, but with my partner and a couple of others pointing it out recently, its pretty clear it changed very slowly, most likely over the last couple of years. Looking at the ABCDE of melanoma over the last couple of weeks, it pretty much checked the full house.

Saw a dermatologist who was immediately very concerned about it, put the fear of god into me and ordered its excision. She also gave me a skin check noting it as the only "ugly duckling" present and checked my lymph nodes. When I asked, she reported not feeling anything unusual around the lymph nodes but she did tell me that I'd likely need a second wider excision and lymph node biopsy if the mole turned out to be what she thinks it is. Removal was about 3 weeks ago and the dermatologist that removed it concurred that she thought I'd most likely need the second excision. I'm still waiting for the biopsy results and anxiety is obviously off the charts currently which I guess is to be expected, but I am really beating myself up for not getting it checked sooner.

But anyway, I just wanted to ask if anyone knows, is it likely lymph nodes would be swollen if they were dealing with cancer or do they not always swell up?

  • Hello honey.  I’m so sorry that you are very frightened & worried about not taking action earlier, that’s v natural.  But please try to go with it now, it helps the body.  They are highly specialiseRainbow& knowledgable and will do their very best for you., Glands can swell for other reasons like infection.  They prodded me on my first appt & told me that I will be in the system for five years, regarRainbowess.  They take no chances with us, and look after us beautifully.  I am at just the same stage as you, only my start was from a melanoma on my scalp, whereas yours is a mole.  Good luck and God bleRainbowss, do keep in touch. Rainbowx RainbowRainbow

  • Hi Saltmarsh, thank you so much for your calming words. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. I wish you the very best with your diagnosis also

  • Hi Idg559 in answer to your question -no the sentinel node and any others they remove during the SLNB (sentinel lymph node biopsy) don't have to be swollen to contain cancerous cells. My mole was on my right elbow and my sentinel node in my right axilla didn't feel swollen.

    It's such a worrying time right now for you and waiting for results is awful.  Please don't beat yourself up for not visiting a doctor sooner, it may not have made any difference perhaps.  My local surgery ignored mine for a year telling me not to worry!  I had feelings of anger towards them, still have but it's done now and all my energy goes into having treatment and staying well. Don't waste your energy feeling guilty hon.

    I hope your results come in really soon and you can get organised.  Fingers crossed for good news xx

  • Thank you Allottment lover, for your reply. I read your story in your profile and Im sorry to hear what you are going through, but I hope the treatment is working well for you. I can definitely relate to feeling alone through this though. 

    Im still waiting for my biopsy results, but I've just received two texts from the hospital this morning requesting me to go in for an appointment at the weekend. Interestingly its a double appointment 15 mins apart, which has naturally gotten me pretty worried. I know I shouldn't try to second guess it but I cant see positive news taking more than a single appt so Im currently thinking/expecting the worst. Having watched a very close family member pass away fairly recently from ovarian cancer after a 9 month battle and a continual stream of bad news and results, my experience there is definitely weighing on my ability to maintain a positive outlook for my own situation.

  • Hello again Idg559, I've been lucky so far after almost a year of Pembro (one of the immunotherapy drugs) to have avoided most side effects. Arthritis has crept into my hands but it's a small price to pay.

    From what you say about the appointment being "double time" it could be the news you don't want, I would probably think the same as you hon.  But you don't know for sure yet.  I knew at my dermatology appointment after the removal of the mole as there was a skin specialist nurse in the room too, a dead giveaway! (I'm a nurse too!)

    I can say don't worry it could be benign and they just want a double appointment to reassure you - this is the other option but we catastrophise when we're waiting for results.  Can you take someone with you I to the appointment as moral support and also to be a second pair of ears as if it's bad news you might well just process that bit only and miss the other info.  

    If it is malignant then as your doctor said they will carry out a WLE which stands for 'wide local excision' 

    This is to obtain good clear, cancer free margins around where the mole was.  This is done under a general anesthesthetic and they often also carry out a check of your nearest lymph nodes. Radioactive injection into the mole site will travel to a lymph node, they often use a blue dye too to highlight the first lymph node that is reached. This node is called the sentinel node. This bit of the op is called an "SLNB" which stands for "sentinel lymph node biopsy"

    Whilst the WLE is to prevent local spread the SLNB is done for "staging" of the disease only.  My surgeon took out only 3 nodes to check.  Years ago all the local lymph nodes were removed but research has shown there is no benefit to that.

    They also test the nodes for the Braf mutant gene and they do have specialised meds that can directly target the mutant gene so there are more treatment options.

    I will be thinking of you this weekend, this time last year I was only just further along the road but still reeling with the shock of the diagnosis.

    I hope by explaining about the next possible proceedures I've not worried you more and I sincerely hope you won't need to go down this path, but at least you will understand what they might need to explain to you.

    Take care and try and keep occupied with other stuff 


  • Sorry you’re going through this. I didn’t have any swelling in my lymph nodes however they did find a little something in there when they did the biopsy making me a stage 3. Sometimes it’s just tiny little cells they find - the biggest one I had in my groin was 1mm. You’re in the system now, and you’ll be surrounded by the right people to take care of you. I was paranoid at first about any swollen glands, but am starting to relax a little more now knowing that mine do swell up and down as my immune system does it’s thing, and it doesn’t always mean there’s cancer there. Wishing you all the best with your appointment, and do come back to the forum to let us know how things are going x

  • Thank you for the insight, it actually helped me to know what questions to ask today. So I got my results and they unfortunately confirmed it was a Melanoma. Next step for me is as you mentioned, WLE and SLNB which I have to wait for consultation with a surgeon on. No idea how long it will be but the doctor today seemed to think it would likely be a few weeks.

    In terms of my diagnosis so far, she defined it as superficial spreading melanoma. When I asked about depth, she said breslow depth was 1.0mm and considered stage 1 on what I think is the Clark scale. I was actually kind of surprised by this as the melanoma was 13mm across x 15mm high and became quite raised, which I'd read over the last couple of weeks can be an indication that its starting to grow down. Oddly despite the confirmation, I actually feel a sense of relief that I now know what I'm dealing with, after all the waiting and the fact that despite the amount of time I've had this mole/melanoma, that its still considered "early stage" according to the doctor. I also feel like I already knew what the result was going to be so it hasn't come as much of a surprise. Maybe it'll hit me over the next few days. 

    I know I've got a lot more waiting for WLE/SLNB then results and anything beyond and I know restaging might happen if any progression is detected, but I'm glad the mole has gone and that the process has started at least at this point. The doctor also said I'd have to go on 3 monthly skin checks for the next few years. Its kind of odd that I've got melanoma, I never sit in the sun, always cover up (even wearing hats and t-shirts in the swimming pool on holidays) and I dont recall ever having had any bad sunburns nor do we have any history of melanoma in the family If I had any burns, it was when I was a child. Of all the things that could get me, I never expected it to be melanoma in my early 40s... 

  • Thank you for the reply Ames, I hope you are doing well with your treatment also

  • Hiya - sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis, understandably this is a stressful time.  

    The staging of melanoma is very complex (AJCC 8th Edition staging system is used by the consultants, I believe).

    If you have surgery (excision/biopsy as you have had done), there is an initial staging done using the pathological report. This may then change after WLE and SLNB (which can give more information), thus the outcome will be that you will be given a 'clinical' stage.  

    My understanding is that one of the important thicknesses is the Breslow thickness (height from top to bottom of tumour) rather than Clarks thickness which indicates which layers of the skin that are affected.  The two indicators are not interchangable.  

    Other important indicators are whether or not there was an ulceration (can only be seen under a microscope) and mitotic rate (speed of how fast cancer cells are dividing and growing).  

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck!

    C xxx

  • Oh my word!  You are all so well informed, with professional terminology, I was quite taken aback from the beginning on the chat site!

    But sincere best wishes to all, and esp Idg599 at present.  

    I am in the system myself with melanoma, having had WLE, plus two others discovered & being investigated.  TTFN Blush