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BRAF STATUS?What does a positive or negative BRAF result mean?
YOU'RE NOT ALONESee stories and experiences from YERVOY patients.

What is metastatic melanoma?

No one is ever ready to hear that they have metastatic melanoma, or melanoma that's inoperable. Even if they've had a melanoma diagnosis in the past.

If you find you’re still struggling to understand what it all means, it may help to break down the diagnosis by each word. Understanding is your first step in defining the path forward that fits your personal goals.

  • Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. There are different forms of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most serious. Melanoma can spread very quickly to other parts of the body, so it is important to detect and treat melanoma in its early stages
  • Metastatic means that your cancer (in this case, melanoma) has spread. Generally, cancer cells do not remain still or "static" and instead, may travel to other parts of your body—either through your bloodstream or lymph nodes. At some point, these cells can start dividing and form new tumors in new areas. The new tumors can be linked back to the melanoma because they contain similar cells
  • Inoperable is sometimes referred to as "unresectable". Both terms mean that the tumor or tumors can't be removed by surgery, either because it's spread to too many places or, based on the location, it's not safe to operate

A metastatic melanoma diagnosis can also be called "malignant melanoma” or "stage III or stage IV melanoma." Doctors will "stage" your melanoma according to its severity using physical exams and specific imaging tests.

No matter where your cancer may spread, it is always named for the place where it started. If melanoma spreads to other areas of your body, like your lungs or liver, the cancer is still called metastatic melanoma.

How is your melanoma stage determined?

Most cancers, including melanoma, are divided into different groups called stages, based on a system developed by oncologists. There are 5 main stages from 0 to 4, each represented by a Roman numeral. Your oncologist may determine the stage of your melanoma by reviewing one or all of a number of factors: your medical history, a physical exam, blood work, and/or a biopsy.

How is your melanoma stage determined?

In addition to using numbers to describe the stage, doctors who work in diagnosing and treating cancer also use a system called a TNM staging system. In this system, each of the letters—T, N, and M—describe a different way to measure the growth of your melanoma. The stage of your melanoma is based on a combination of measurements from all of these categories:

  • The T category tells you how THICK the main melanoma TUMOR is

  • The N category reflects the NUMBER of invaded lymph nodes (how far has your melanoma spread?)

  • The M category recognizes any METASTASES, or MOVEMENT, to distant organs (have the same cells shown up anywhere else in your body?)

Staging is important because it helps you and your oncologist develop a treatment plan.

Remember, you are more than your diagnosis

Melanoma staging is an important process for helping to establish treatment and prognosis, but it is not a definitive outcome. Some people do better than others, despite their staging. This can be because of age, general health, and how quickly melanoma cells are dividing. Learn all you can. Make sure your oncologist understands your personal goals. It will make you feel more in control, whatever your stage. Because no one cares more about you and your health than you and those close to you.

A metastatic melanoma diagnosis can be devastating. Talk to your doctor about YERVOY as a possible treatment option. Learn more

NEXT: Metastatic Melanoma Treatments

BEING A CAREGIVERBeing an active caregiver isn't easy. Get help and suggestions from the start.
BRAF STATUS?What does a positive or negative BRAF result mean?
YOU'RE NOT ALONESee stories and experiences from YERVOY patients.
More Important Safety Information +

Important Safety Information about YERVOY® (ipilimumab)

YERVOY can cause serious side effects in many parts of your body which can lead to death. These serious side effects may include: intestinal problems (colitis) that can cause tears or holes (perforation) in the intestines; liver problems (hepatitis) that can lead to liver failure; skin problems that can lead to severe skin reaction; nerve problems that can lead to paralysis; hormone gland problems (especially the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands); and eye problems.

These problems may happen anytime during treatment with YERVOY or after you have completed treatment. Getting medical treatment right away may keep the problem from becoming more serious. Your healthcare provider will check you for these problems during treatment with YERVOY. Your healthcare provider may treat you with corticosteroid medicines. Your healthcare provider should perform blood tests, such as liver, hormone, and thyroid function tests, before starting and during treatment with YERVOY. Your healthcare provider may need to delay or completely stop treatment with YERVOY, if you have severe side effects.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. Even seemingly mild symptoms can lead to severe or even life-threatening conditions if not addressed. Do not try to treat symptoms yourself.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Intestinal problems (colitis) that can cause tears or holes (perforation) in the intestines. Signs and symptoms of colitis may include: diarrhea (loose stools) or more bowel movements than usual; blood in your stools or dark, tarry, sticky stools; and stomach pain (abdominal pain) or tenderness
  • Liver problems (hepatitis) that can lead to liver failure. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis may include: yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes; dark urine (tea colored); nausea or vomiting; pain on the right side of your stomach; and bleeding or bruise more easily than normal
  • Skin problems that can lead to severe skin reactions. Signs and symptoms of severe skin reactions may include: skin rash with or without itching; sores in your mouth; and your skin blisters and/or peels
  • Nerve problems that can lead to paralysis. Symptoms of nerve problems may include: unusual weakness of legs, arms, or face; and numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Hormone gland problems (especially the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands). Signs and symptoms that your glands are not working properly may include: persistent or unusual headaches; unusual sluggishness; feeling cold all the time; weight gain; changes in mood or behavior such as decreased sex drive, irritability, or forgetfulness; and dizziness or fainting
  • Eye problems. Symptoms may include: blurry vision, double vision, or other vision problems; and eye pain or redness

Pregnancy and Nursing:

  • Before you receive YERVOY, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. YERVOY can harm your unborn baby. Females who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment with YERVOY and for 3 months after the last dose of YERVOY. Before you receive YERVOY, tell your healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if YERVOY passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with YERVOY and for 3 months after the last dose of YERVOY.

Tell your healthcare provider about:

  • All your medical conditions, including if you: have immune system problems (autoimmune disease), such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, or sarcoidosis; have had an organ transplant; and have liver problems
  • All the medicines you take including: all prescription and over-the-counter medicines; vitamins; and herbal supplements

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list to show your healthcare provider and pharmacists each time you get a new medicine. You should not start a new medicine before you talk with the healthcare provider who prescribes you YERVOY.

The most common side effects of YERVOY include: tiredness, diarrhea, itching, rash, nausea, vomiting, headache, weight loss, fever, decreased appetite, and difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of YERVOY. For more information, ask your healthcare provider.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see U.S. Full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNING regarding immune-mediated side effects, and Medication Guide for YERVOY.

Indication

YERVOY® (ipilimumab) is a prescription medicine used in adults to treat melanoma (a kind of skin cancer) that has spread (metastatic) or cannot be removed by surgery (unresectable).

It is not known if YERVOY is safe and effective in children less than 18 years of age.