Side Effects of Groin Dissection Surgery

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    • #26636
      LettyannLettyann
      Participant

      In early May I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC/IV MIa Melanoma with two nodal masses in my right groin and pelvis. I have completed four rounds of combination Ipilimumab and Nivolumab with virtually no side effects. A PET scan done yesterday shows remarkable shrinkage of both masses as well as a marked reduction in metabolic activity (FDG uptake) since the treatment. However, as there has not been a “complete response” to the treatment, my doctors (oncologist and surgeon) are recommending a superficial and deep groin dissection to remove the remaining cancer. I am extremely concerned about the side effects of this surgery – namely the possibility of lymphedema and possible nerve damage causing permanent numbness in my abdomen and leg. Given the excellent response to the immune therapy, my preference is to continue with it for another three months and after another PET scan reassess the surgery issue at that time. Has anyone faced a similar situation and, if so, how did you handle it?

    • #26685
      Annette CyrAnnette Cyr
      Participant

      Hi and thanks for posting. You must be so relieved and encouraged by your response to therapy. It is really remarkable to get through the combination therapy with few side effects. Good for you. I am not sure that you will get a response to your inquiry about surgery and possibilities of lymphedema. It’s not that it is so uncommon, and your concerns are shared by many going through similar treatment. I understand why the docs would be interested in removing the bulk of the disease that is sitting there, but also share your concern about the side effects of such surgery. About 35% or more with full dissection end up with some form of lymphedema and it can be quite debilitating to manage. As you know it is a permanent condition. On the other hand, the cancer can continue to spread, which may be worse.It is not an easy decision. Some people do quite well after, if they are in good physical health, have not other disease that may make it worse and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise and ongoing limb management (we do have a very good booklet that provides useful info on managing lymphedema) help with minimizing the impacts of the surgery. We have another lady that is going through a similar process and shares your worries. If you think it might be helpful, we could try and arrange to connect you both via email. Please let me know how we could best help. Discuss your concerns with your surgeon (you likely already have) and see if there is any way to minimize the impact. Having drains in as long as possible helps, from my own experience, avoiding infection is a must and starting with a licensed and skilled massage therapist that has been specifically trained in manual lymph drainage and wrapping the limb is essential as soon as you are able after surgery.

    • #26721
      LettyannLettyann
      Participant

      Annette, thank you for your reply and suggestions for dealing with lymphedema (I have read MNC’s booklet and found it very enlightening). I think communicating with another woman who shares my concerns would be helpful. Please feel free to give her my e-mail if she is interested. Thanks again.

    • #26834
      bethhartebethharte
      Participant

      Hi, I have had essentially two groin dissections. One in 2010 & another in January of 2019. I have lymphedema in the left leg, it was very much under control after the first surgery with conventional and uncoventional compression and exercise. It has exacerbated with the second surgery but with compression, swimming, self manual lymph drainage and exercise it is becoming controlled. I have found a key factor in keeping it controlled is getting enough sleep.

    • #26842
      LettyannLettyann
      Participant

      Beth, thank you for your response with your experience dealing with lymphedema. It sounds like you are a very patient person able to cope with this condition. I am struggling with the decision to consent to surgery that may (or may not) result in removing the cancer and possibly face living the rest of my life with a debilitating condition or continue with immune therapy that also may (or may not) result in a complete response. I will have some serious discussions with my doctors in the coming weeks. I appreciate your suggestions for controlling your lymphedema and wish you all the best. Thanks again for your response.

    • #26867
      bethhartebethharte
      Participant

      It has been my experience that lymphedema has been more of an annoying than debilitating. I am a nurse in LTC so spend a lot of time on my feet if that gives you any perspective.

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