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January 2008

Voodoo Medicine Still Going Strong: A Tale of Melanoma, Faith, and Failure

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(1):121-122. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2007.21

A diagnosis of metastatic disease represents a heavy burden for both patient and family, especially when the disease affects young patients. Subsequently, patients and their families are prepared to accept every possible option for treatment. Unfortunately, in desperation sometimes particularly dubious methods are pursued.

In March 2003, a 23-year-old woman with metastatic melanoma of the skin was referred to our department. In an earlier diagnosis (June 2001), the patient had presented with a superficial spreading melanoma on her belly, which was surgically removed. This lesion displayed a Breslow thickness of 3.44 mm, Clark level 4. A second operation with surgical margins of 2 cm was performed 2 weeks later, according to the Swiss guidelines for melanoma therapy.1 A sentinel lymph node biopsy was also performed.

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