Immune System after Melanoma

Last Modified: August 20, 2006

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I recently had a superficial spreading melanoma removed that was quite small, approx half a millimeter in depth. (The procedure went well with) no problems and a fairly good prognosis. Since then, my immune system seems to be weakened, as I am catching every bug around. Is this an after-effect, and if so, how do I sort it out? Also, are there any recommended natural means to prevent further melanomas?

Answer

Suzanne M. McGettigan, MSN, CRNP, AOCN, Board Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner and a Certified Oncology Advanced Practice Nurse, responds:

Unfortunately, there is no evidence of any particular substance that can prevent melanoma in humans. There are several supplements that claim to aid in melanoma prevention, such as curcumin, but none of these substances has actually been scientifically proven to prevent melanoma.

Additionally, although the actual surgical procedure causes an increase in the amount of stress to which your body is exposed, there should not be lingering immunosuppressive effects from it.

Generally, things you can do to limit your risk of a more serious melanoma include routine self skin exams, professional skin exams, and safe sun habits. In addition, having other healthy habits, such as good diet and exercise, are always a good thing and can help your overall health. This would include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting some exercise.