What to Expect After a Melanoma Diagnosis Linked to Viagra Use

David W. Hodges
David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.

Throughout the country, millions of men have struggled with some form of erectile dysfunction over the course of their lives. Many of these men sought assistance from their doctors, who then prescribed medication to treat the condition. Perhaps the most popular of all erectile dysfunction medications is Viagra. Sadly, some studies have shown that the use of Viagra may double a person’s risk of developing a form of skin cancer called melanoma. Researchers believe the link between Viagra and melanoma is plausible because the drug works on the same cell-signaling pathways that melanoma does when it metastasizes.

What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It develops when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations that then lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Melanoma often looks like a mole. In some cases, melanoma develops out of a mole. Most melanomas are brown or black. They can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue, or white. When melanoma is caught early, it can be very treatable. Unfortunately, however, melanomas that are more advanced when they are discovered are much more difficult to treat. The cancer can quickly spread to other parts of the body.

Stages of Melanoma

If your doctor suspects that you have melanoma after Viagra use, the next step will be to stage the disease. The stages are designed to classify the melanoma with regard to its severity. The following is an overview of the stages relating to melanoma:

  • Stage 0. In this stage, the cancer is localized, noninvasive, and has not penetrated below the surface of the skin.
  • Stage 1. During this stage, the melanoma has invaded the skin but is small, non-ulcerated, and is growing at a slow rate. It is also still localized.
  • Stage 2. A stage 2 melanoma is also localized, but it is a larger tumor. Usually, stage 2 melanomas are over 1 mm thick. The tumors may also be ulcerated or grow at an increased rate.
  • Stage 3. In stages 3 and 4, the melanoma has spread to other parts of the body. This process is known as metastasis. Stage 3 melanomas have either spread to the lymph nodes or to the skin between the primary tumor and the nearby lymph nodes. Stage 3 melanomas are classified after examining a biopsy of the node that is nearest to the tumor.
  • Stage 4. A stage 4 melanoma has metastasized to lymph nodes far from the primary tumor or to the internal organs. The internal organ where the cancer most frequently metastasizes is the lung, followed by the liver, brain, bone, and gastrointestinal tract. To determine how advanced a stage 4 melanoma has become, doctors will assess the site of the distant metastases and the elevated lactate dehydrogenase level.

It is important to note that there are many subdivisions within each stage. Staging the melanoma is important because it will dictate the recommended course of treatment as well as the overall prognosis.

Treatments for Melanoma

Once a melanoma diagnosis is made, the next step is treatment. Typically, the first part of treatment is surgical removal of the melanoma. The standard method for doing so is to use surgical excision. Most patients are able to have the procedure done in the doctor’s office or as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. When a person has stage 3 or 4 melanoma, additional therapy is typically advised. These therapies may include the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapies
  • BRAF and MEK inhibitors and immune-checkpoint blockade therapies
  • Combined targeted therapy and immunotherapy
  • Gene therapy

While the prognosis for later-stage melanoma has sometimes been poor in the past, many improvements are on the horizon. As a result, some patients are choosing to participate in clinical trials to undergo new and experimental treatments for their melanoma.

If you took Viagra and have since been diagnosed with melanoma, you face many physical, emotional, and financial hardships as you deal with the outcome of your diagnosis. Treatments for melanoma can be physically taxing, and the medical costs combined with the inability to work during this time could create significant financial harm for your family. Fortunately, we are here to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. We encourage you to check out our many case results to learn more about how we have assisted many previous clients to pursue legal action after taking a dangerous drug and suffering harm as a result.