In 2013, Kaiser Permanente member Jessica Wade met with her dermatologist to discuss a couple of moles that seemed odd to her. As it turned out, both were melanoma. “I had surgery, they got clear margins, my PET scan was clear, and so life went on,” said Wade.
Then, last year, Wade tested positive for COVID-19 and underwent a CT scan to check for pneumonia. Though her lungs were clear for pneumonia, the scan came back showing a worrying nodule. Concerned it could be related to her previous diagnoses of melanoma, Wade was referred to Brian Rezvani, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento.
“It was impressive to me that something from 9 years ago was still relevant in my medical record for them to consider,” said Wade. “I honestly had no idea that melanoma in my lung was even possible. Dr. Rezvani explained everything to me and gave me some options to consider. I really appreciated being a part of the decision-making for my care.”
Treatments to fight metastasized cancer
After surgery, it was confirmed that Wade’s melanoma had metastasized to her lungs and she was referred to Frank Hsieh, MD, an oncologist at the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, a nationally certified Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, along with the Sacramento and South Sacramento medical centers.
“Melanoma is a very serious skin cancer. It has a tendency to spread to other parts of the body even years after the initial diagnosis,” explained Dr. Hsieh. “Unfortunately, it came back in her lungs.”
Wade’s care involved using the latest immunotherapy treatments, which not only resulted in a better outcome, but reduced nausea, allowed Wade to stay active, and even enabled her to keep her hair during treatment.
“Before the era of immunotherapy, the prognosis for melanoma — once it has spread — was poor,” said Dr. Hsieh.
Wade’s prognosis looks very positive, but due to her high risk she continues to be closely followed by Bianca Lemos, MD, her dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente Sacramento. Thanks to her entire Kaiser Permanente care team, Wade has been able to get back to long distance running and recently completed a 50k trail run in under 7.5 hours.
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