(CBS) – It’s a cancer that kills one person every hour: melanoma.
CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist recently met a young woman who discovered she had the disease and then found out there’s a new treatment to help her heal faster and more safely.
Krista Easom found a bump on her foot and just wanted it removed. Doctors did that, tested the tissue and found out that it was malignant melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer in the U.S.
“I was kind of surprised. I never had any health problems before, so I didn’t really know it was that serious,” Easom says.
Further tests revealed that the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, which meant she needed to have them removed. That procedure usually involves a five-day hospital stay, a high-risk of infection and a huge one-foot-long scar from the hip to the thigh.
Now, doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital are using a new procedure that offers many benefits for the patient. They include small incisions and a shorter, overnight hospital stay.
“Being able to offer patients like Krista a new, minimally invasive technique that we hope will lead to a decrease in both short-term and long-term complications is really very exciting for people like me,” Northwestern physician Jeffrey Wayne says.
Krista’s recent CT scans and blood tests show that the surgery was a success. Doctors will follow her closely for the next five years.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back to normal, to getting back to my routine, working out, just having a good time, getting past all of it,” she says.
Dr. Wayne says he expects this new procedure to be the first-line treatment within a couple of years.