Speedier Recovery for Melanoma Patients

New surgical approach at Franciscan St. Francis Cancer Center offers benefits, speedier recovery for melanoma patients

A few months ago, Stacey Yount’s passion for running may have seemed like a long-distance proposition after being diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma. But she’s getting back on her feet, thanks to an innovative surgical therapy.

Yount recently underwent videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy (VIL) at Franciscan St. Francis Health. It’s a minimally invasive procedure to treat melanoma that has spread to lymph nodes in the groin area.

After being diagnosed with melanoma, the Martinsville resident met with Juliana E. Meyer, MD, melanoma surgeon with Franciscan Physician Network, and director of the Melanoma Clinic at Franciscan St. Francis Health Cancer Center.

After further assessment and consultation with her colleagues, Dr. Meyer told Yount she was a good candidate for VIL.

“For certain melanoma patients, this is an effective procedure and offers many benefits over traditional invasive surgical therapy,” said Dr. Meyer. “It reduces the risk of infection and leads to speedier recovery.”

Under videoscopic guidance, this new approach uses standard laparoscopic instruments and techniques to remove the affected lymph nodes in the groin. In most cases, patients only have to stay overnight, often less time than had they undergone an open procedure.

“Because it is performed laparoscopically, VIL has smaller, less visible scarring compared to an open procedure,” said Dr. Meyer. 

And there are other important benefits, notes Yount, who is said to be the first patient in Central Indiana to undergo the procedure.

"Mine was an aggressive melanoma, and in addition to the immediate concern of mortality, I was really worried that melanoma would forever change my quality of life,” said Yount who formerly worked in the pharmaceutical clinical trials industry. “Like most cancer patients, feeling normal again was desperately important. Running was a big part of that."

In large part, “normal” to Yount means spending more time with her husband and daughters (ages 12 and 14) at the lake and pursuing outdoor activities. And it means setting a new pace in her passion for running. She recently completed a half-marathon and grueling triathlon.

To find out if you are a candidate for a lymphadenectomy, or to schedule a skin cancer screening, please call the Franciscan St. Francis Health Cancer Center at 317-528-1420.