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Melanoma but could not find the primary mole

9 months ago, a friend of mine has discovered a tumor in her left parotid, the doctors said that there's a 98% chance that it will be benign. Unfortunately, they were shocked and said it was melanoma. and since they discovered it in the parotid (not in the skin) they say it has moved so it's stage 4.

After this, they started searching for the primary source mole but they could not find it. Another surgeon removed 8 suspected moles 2 weeks later but they were all negative. So they thought it should be somewhere in the soft tissues (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, vagina...etc) so they did lots of tests - blood tests, scans, biopsy, and radioscopy but all of them gave negative results. Till now they don't know where the source is, and even the latest scan was all negative.

I am trying to understand my friend's case. How come no one has been able to find the primary source? and what is expected now? is she stage 4 as she's not getting any treatment? and what can I do to help out?

Thank you
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replied September 25th, 2010
In 1 to 3 percent of cases of metastatic (Stage 4) melanoma, a primary tumor is never found. In many such cases, the primary tumor was either destroyed by the body's immune system or was missed on a prior skin biopsy.

Sincerely/ Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

A landmark, evidence-based guide to a healthy cancer-prevention lifestyle, based on cutting-edge cancer research.
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replied May 6th, 2012
metastatic melanoma, no primary mole detected
I have been searching for just this answer. My step-daughter passed away last night from metastatic melanoma, 3 weeks after a CT can for an unrelated problem showed cancer all over her organs, especially her brain. By the time an MRI was done and a biopsy analysed her oncologist wanted one more MRI before her first treatment. Even her oncologist was shocked at the progression of the tumors - nothing could be done for her. No indicating mole was ever noticed and I find that terrifying in itself

Thank you both for the question and the answer.
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