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Building on basics

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Suzanne Demas knows about cancer from first-hand experience. In 1989, she went to see her dermatologist about a mole on the back of her ankle which changed in appearance. Her doctor wasn't worried. "This is probably a wart. We'll take a biopsy to be safe. Come back in 10 days to have the stitches out and we'll talk about it." When she returned to the dermatologist's office, his face was ashen. "I knew then something was up," she recalls.

Demas had malignant melanoma, a cancer of the cells that create pigment in skin. Some 40,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with the disease; more than 7,000 perish from it. The day after she got the news, she was off to see James Goodnight, a prominent surgical oncologist who was then director of the UC Davis Cancer Center.

Goodnight performed surgery, but three months later a bump appeared near the surface of one of the incisions. He recommended an experimental therapy in which chemotherapeutic drugs are infused into the leg, which is then heated from an external source.


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Supporting Cancer Center
UC Davis Cancer CenterUC Davis Health System

Ester Armstrong