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The Cutting Edge - Sharing the Care

Cutting Edge Fall 2009

Sharing the Care

Date: December 21, 2009

Charles Balch
Charles Balch

In David Kay, we had the ideal combination of compliant, enthusiastic patient and intimately familiar procedure. It helps, too, that we perform hundreds of melanoma operations at Hopkins every year.

Cases like these are where Hopkins expertise and high volumes become vital. We wanted the best chance of a cure and preservation of David’s quality of life. This man was a super marathoner, so the stakes were high.

A sentinel node biopsy revealed what we already feared: melanoma. Whenever one lymph node is affected by this disease, the chances are one in three that other nodes are involved. We knew that this patient would require groin-dissection surgery, and there was a potential for flexibility impairment because the surgery required transferring muscle to cover the femoral vessels. This procedure is not done often in other places, but our volume and experience here make a difference. Our morbidity and complication rates are much lower than at places doing fewer of these operations.

That David was very physically active, attuned to his body’s needs and knew how to take care of himself was critical to his successful recovery, including his recapture of his marathoner status. But David also emerged as something more: an avid supporter of melanoma research.

Since his treatment, he has remained very informed and educated about his disease, and has eagerly taken part in clinical vaccine trials to help with his care and advance the field. He’s also funding a series of lectures—the David and Margaret Kay Melanoma Lectureship—that allows us to bring top melanoma experts to speak at Hopkins.

—Charles Balch

Articles in this Issue

Surgeon Speaks


Changing Lives Through Research

On the Job

Those Who Give


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