A melanoma diagnosis can be scary, but when it’s caught and treated early, the estimated five-year survival rate in the U.S. is about 99%. But what if your melanoma is one of the rare melanomas to recur after treatment? That’s what happened to HonorHealth patient Leticia Rascon, who was first diagnosed with stage II melanoma in 2017. Thanks to a comprehensive treatment available in the Valley, and the collaborative care between the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Care Network and HonorHealth Research Institute, Leticia was given a second chance at life.
Side effects are also typically mild, which was the case for Leticia, and a welcome change after her previous therapies. After just five weeks of treatment, the melanomas on her leg began to shrink and eventually went away completely. After six months of treatment, only two mildly enlarged lymph nodes remained. Based on the recommendation from her care team, Leticia decided to have both surgically removed so they could find out if there was any melanoma remaining. Pathology from the surgery found the lymph nodes to be free from melanoma – indicating a complete response to the combined therapy. Leticia was now cancer-free.
“Our primary focus at the HonorHealth Research Institute Melanoma clinic is our patients. Given Leticia didn’t live close to our clinic, we closely coordinated her care with other members of her healthcare team so that she could more conveniently get surgery and ipilimumab closer to home with Drs. Low and Patel, although she did have to come to our clinic for her intratumoral injections,” said Dr. Moser. “We want all patients in the Phoenix area to have access to the most comprehensive treatment options available for their cancer, including intratumoral injections, clinical trials and other options that we offer at HonorHealth Research Institute.”
Leticia credits her recovery to this collaborative approach at HonorHealth. She continues to follow-up with Dr. Patel every three months and is still free from cancer. Her foot, which had gotten quite swollen from the melanomas, is back to its normal size, and she’s thankful she can wear her shoes and walk comfortably once again.