Cancer patients and their caregivers are put into a terribly vulnerable position when diagnosed with melanoma. Being in this state of anxiety, which is very normal, pushes folks to desperately seek therapies and answers. Money is no obstacle when it comes to your longevity. Unfortunately, there are many profit making groups that want to take advantage and prosper form this state of mind. We at MIF want to make sure you don’t end up with “snake oil” or anything that costs a lot but does little for you or your disease, so here are a few things to keep in mind and protect your wallet:
For information on clinical trials and treatments, start with the National Cancer Institute’s clinicaltrials.gov and the Cancer Information Service. Your tax dollars provide this free service. Once you find a research center for a trial, call the trial coordinator to get the full information. The only third party navigation you need is your doctor (if supportive) or a non-profit navigator such as MIF, where we specialize in melanoma only. MIF gathers knowledge from our scientific board that specializes in melanoma. We only serve the melanoma patient and caregiver. Our forum also will keep you up to date on the latest discoveries.
You should be wary of private cancer hospitals that rarely accept health insurance and are not designated as National Cancer Institute approved centers. These centers normally do not get involved in the research and cutting edge therapies you may need for melanoma treatment. The sometimes offer a “holistic” approach, which you can design in your community if need be. Your best bet is a melanoma treatment center of excellence, where there are experienced providers and ongoing clinical trial research.
Another tip is to avoid the private lab testing firms that offer individualized approaches to therapies through cancer blood tests. These private labs often match your lab results to treatments that aren’t proven in melanoma. Cost of this testing can run up and beyond $40K and is not covered by health insurance. The service offered is no better than having a good university based lab look at your tumor tissue for the different genetic mutations that are matched to treatments. Your insurance should cover that testing.
I could go on about the diets and books that proclaim sugar makes cancer grow and tons of Vitamin C will make you better. There is no easy answer to melanoma.
In general, if it seems too good to be true, IT IS!! If you have been offered a service that seems a bit questionable and is expensive, check with us and we will let you know if it will serve you well. Our mission is: to develop personalized strategies with patients so they may live longer, better lives.