Author | Donald P. Lawrence, MD

Articles

Your Patient With Melanoma: Staging, Prognosis, and Treatment

August 05, 2009

Melanoma affects persons of all ages, causing more years of lost life than any other cancer except leukemia.[1] The American Cancer Society estimates that about 68,720 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the US in 2009, with more than 8,650 deaths, and an estimated lifetime risk of 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 200 for Hispanics, and 1 in 1,000 for blacks.[2]

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October 01, 2004

Severe, debilitating fatigue is common in cancer patients. For many,it is the symptom that interferes most with normal routines. Virtuallyevery modality used to treat cancer may cause fatigue, as can complicationsof the disease such as sleep disturbances, infections, malnutrition,hypothyroidism, and anemia. There is a significant overlap betweendepression and fatigue in many patients. Given the high prevalenceof cancer-related fatigue, frequent assessment of patients is essential.The evaluation should include an attempt to identify reversiblecauses of fatigue, and screening for depression. However, many cancerpatients suffer from fatigue even in the absence of any identifiable,reversible cause. For these patients, consideration can be given to suitableexercise programs, educational support and counseling, and energyconservation strategies. A trial of a stimulant medication is alsoreasonable. Given the heterogeneity of patients, individualized approachesare needed. For anemic patients undergoing chemotherapy,erythropoietic agents can increase hemoglobin levels. The impact ofthese drugs on fatigue and quality of life is uncertain. Recent reports ofincreased mortality and thrombotic events in cancer patients treatedwith epoetin require further investigation.