MAY IS MELANOMA AWARENESS MONTH AND AS SUMMER CREEPS CLOSER IT'S IMPORTANT TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN.
PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH METASTATIC MELANOMA IN THEIR ARMS OR LEGS CAN'T ALWAYS PROTECT THEIR LIMBS FROM THE CANCER AND RISK LOSING THEM.
BUT, NOW THERE'S A WAY TO HELP SAVE PATIENTS' LIVES AND LIMBS FROM THE DISEASE.
EILEEN ZBIGNEWICH HAS TENDER MEMORIES OF HER LATE HUSBAND ZIGGY. TOGETHER 62 YEARS, THE COUPLE MET WHEN ZIGGY RETURNED HOME FROM WORLD WAR TWO.
EILEEN WAS HIS NURSE.
"I was working on the amputee ward and so I took care of him at that time when he lost his leg."
TEN YEARS AFTER HER HUSBAND DIED, EILEEN WAS IN JEOPARDY OF LOSING HER LEG...BECAUSE OF MELANOMA.
"It's just unbelievable."
THE CONDITION OFTEN LEADS TO AMPUTATION BUT A NEW MINIMALLY INVASIVE PROCEDURE KNOWN AS ISOLATED LIMB INFUSION OR I-L-I IS CHANGING THAT.
"The new idea is to put small catheters into the vessel instead of making incisions."
FIRST DOCTORS ISOLATE THE AFFECTED LIMB WITH A TOURNIQUET. THEN A CATHETER DELIVERS HIGH DOSES OF CHEMOTHERAPY DIRECTLY TO THE LIMB, TARGETING THE CANCER. BY ISOLATING THE LIMB...
"The drug does not enter the systemic circulation. It does not kill the patient." THE SURVIVAL RATE FOR METASTIC MELANOMA IN THE LIMBS...USED TO BE ONE IN TEN. I-L-I HAS TRIPLED THAT. AND ANOTHER THIRD OF PATIENTS EXPERIENCE A SLOWDOWN OF THE DISEASE.
EILEEN IS ONE OF THEM. SHE HAD I-L-I TWO YEARS AGO. NOW THE CANCER HAS COME BACK.
"Fortunately my melanoma has been isolated to just this leg."
SHE'S A CANDIDATE FOR ANOTHER I-L-I PROCEDURE AND IS FOCUSING ON KEEPING HER LEG.
THE OUTPATIENT PROCEDURE TAKES ABOUT TWO HOURS TO COMPLETE.
AT THE END OF THE PROCEDURE THE CHEMO DRUGS ARE FLUSHED OUT OF THE LIMBS AND CIRCULATION IS RETURNED TO NORMAL.
JUST LIKE IN EILEEN'S CASE, IT CAN BE REPEATED IF NECESSARY.
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