How Dangerous Is Melanoma Its All A Matter Of Timing
Skin cancer holds the unfortunate distinction of being the worlds most common cancer. Though its prevalence around the globe is disturbing, there is some good news: When caught early, skin cancers are highly curable.
You might already know that catching a cancer early means a more favorable prognosis. But it can be difficult to comprehend just how big a difference early detection makes with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma should never be underestimated, but treating a tumor early rather than after it is allowed to progress could be lifesaving.
Leland Fay, 46, understands better than most the seriousness of this distinction. When the Monument, Colorado native was diagnosed with melanoma in 2012, he was given a bleak prognosis due to the advanced stage of the tumor it had already reached stage IV.
Leland hadnt thought much of the little black mole on his head a few months earlier, when a dermatologist froze it off during a routine exam. But the mole resurfaced, bigger than it had been originally. After a biopsy and imaging tests, doctors told Leland it was melanoma, and that it had already spread. He could have as few as six weeks to live.
To fully comprehend the significance of timing, it can be helpful to understand exactly what happens to a melanoma when it advances to a later stage, and what it means when a melanoma spreads beyond the original tumor site.
Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.
The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for melanoma skin cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:
- Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread beyond the skin where it started.
- Regional: The cancer has spread beyond the skin where it started to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or skin on other parts of the body.
How Do I Know If I Should Keep Getting Treatment
How much is treatment helping?
For some people, getting cancer treatment helps them feel better and stronger. It also helps control the cancer so they can live longer. But for others, being in treatment works the opposite way they may reach a point where it only makes them feel worse. Side effects might keep you from enjoying the life you have left. Only you can decide how you want to live your life. Of course, youll want to know how your family feels about it, too. Their feelings are important since they are living through the cancer with you. But keep in mind, the final decision is yours.
Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?
When a person has had many different treatments that didnt help stop the cancer, it may mean that its become resistant to all treatment. At this time you might want to weigh the possible limited benefit of a new treatment against the possible downsides, including the stress of getting treatment and the side effects that go with it. Everyone has a different way of looking at this. Talk to your cancer care team about what you can expect from treatment. They can help you make the best decision for yourself and your family.
Is Prostate Cancer Curable
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men, second only to skin cancer. Learning that one has any type of cancer isnt easy, but the first question on most patients minds after diagnosis is, is prostate cancer curable?
The short answer is yes, prostate cancer can be cured, when detected and treated early. The vast majority of prostate cancer cases are discovered in the early stages, making the tumors more likely to respond to treatment. Treatment doesnt always have to mean surgery or chemotherapy, either. Non-invasive radiation therapy can effectively treat prostate cancer in the case of Pasadena CyberKnife, radiosurgery treatment generally takes less than a week, and you can typically resume your normal activities the same day you receive treatment.
What Is Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and your doctor has indicated that your cancer appears to not have spread beyond the prostate gland, you have what is known as clinically localized prostate cancer. Sometimes, doctors will also call cancer that has spread into the lining of the prostate gland clinically localized.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, about 90 percent of men with prostate cancer have localized prostate cancer, and it is typically considered low-risk, meaning patients can expect to live long after their diagnosis, in many cases even without treatment.
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How Does A Doctor Know The Stage Of A Patient’s Melanoma
When your dermatologist found a spot on your skin that looked like a skin cancer, your dermatologist performed a skin biopsy. This involved giving you an injection to numb the area and then removing all the spot.
The skin that your dermatologist removed was then sent to a lab, where another doctor looked at it under a microscope. This doctor saw melanoma cells.
When a doctor, who is either a dermatopathologist or pathologist, sees melanoma cells, this doctor also tries to determine the stage of the melanoma. When its possible to figure out the stage, the doctor includes this information in your biopsy report. This is a report that the doctor writes and sends to your dermatologist. It explains what the doctor saw under the microscope.
Because the doctor sees only the skin that your dermatologist removed, your dermatologist also uses the findings from your complete skin exam and physical to help determine the stage of the melanoma.
Sometimes, more information is needed to determine the stage.
Biological Therapies And Melanoma
Biological therapies are treatments using substances made naturally by the body. Some of these treatments are called immunotherapy because they help the immune system fight the cancer, or they occur naturally as part of the immune system.
There are many biological therapies being researched and trialled, which in the future may help treat people with melanoma. They include monoclonal antibodies and vaccine therapy.
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How Long Do People Usually Live With Untreated Breast Cancer
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How Is Melanoma Diagnosed
If you have a mole or other spot that looks suspicious, your doctor may remove it and look at it under the microscope to see if it contains cancer cells. This is called a biopsy.
After your doctor receives the skin biopsy results showing evidence of melanoma cells, the next step is to determine if the melanoma has spread. This is called staging. Once diagnosed, melanoma will be categorized based on several factors, such as how deeply it has spread and its appearance under the microscope. Tumor thickness is the most important characteristic in predicting outcomes.
Melanomas are grouped into the following stages:
- Stage 0 : The melanoma is only in the top layer of skin .
- Stage I: Low-risk primary melanoma with no evidence of spread. This stage is generally curable with surgery.
- Stage II: Features are present that indicate higher risk of recurrence, but there is no evidence of spread.
- Stage III: The melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes or nearby skin.
- Stage IV: The melanoma has spread to more distant lymph nodes or skin or has spread to internal organs.
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Metastatic Melanoma: A Wife Reflects On Husband’s Shocking Diagnosis
My husband, Steve, was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma in January 2012 at age 34. We have two daughters, ages 2 and 10. He had just started a job working from home and our life seemed to be going so smoothly. I had had some minor health issues that prevented me from working and Steve’s new job enabled me to stay home and focus on getting better. One day in December 2011, Steve asked me to feel a strange lump on his neck. It was directly above his right clavicle and was swollen to about the size of an egg. I immediately started scouring the Internet to see if I could figure out what was going on. After a few minutes, I determined it was a supraclavicular lymph node. Everything I read about the right supraclavicular lymph node pointed to cancer or a very bad infection. Steve had just gotten over a cold, so I was hoping it had something to do with that. After a few days, it had not gone down. At this point he began to get worried, too, so we decided to go to the ER.
Can You Survive Esophageal Cancer
In most cases, esophageal cancer is a treatable disease, but it is rarely curable. The overall 5-year survival rate in patients amenable to definitive treatment ranges from 5% to 30%. The occasional patient with very early disease has a better chance of survival.
Also Check: Does Melanoma Blanch When Pressed
Understanding The Nature Of Stage 4 Cancer
A person with stage 4 cancer may not feel ready to face the likelihood of death, which causes them to be willing to try any kind of treatment, even with a small chance of success, according to the study.
Sometimes, doctors do not speak in straightforward terms with patients about the limited chances of success in curing stage 4 cancer. Patients need to ask questions of doctors about the actual chances of recovery when facing stage 4 cancer. They also should ask about the benefits of hospice care, such as those outlined by the Mayo Clinic.
Does Chemo Work For Stage 4 Lung Cancer
The standard management of stage IV lung cancer is palliative chemotherapy with platinum-based combination chemotherapy. However, there are some reports of patients with lung cancer with only a malignant pleural effusion and no other metastatic sites that have long-term cures with chemotherapy and surgery.
Also Check: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Survival Rate
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Medically Reviewed by: Dr. BautistaUpdated on: November 4, 2021
Primary bone cancer begins and develops within the skeletal system. Though there is no definitive answer as towhat causes bone cancer, incredible strides have been made toward treating it. When you take steps toward analternative treatment for bone cancer, its no longer a matter of how long can you live with metastatic bone cancer its a matter of how proactively and positively you can live with it.
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If you or someone near and dear has been diagnosed with primary bone cancer, were here for you. Lets cover the stages, symptoms, survival rates, and treatment options, so you can look forward to a bright future ahead.
What Is Metastatic Cancer
Cancer that spreads from where it started to a distant part of the body is called metastatic cancer. For many types of cancer, it is also called stage IV cancer. The process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body is called metastasis.
When observed under a microscope and tested in other ways, metastatic cancer cells have features like that of the primary cancer and not like the cells in the place where the metastatic cancer is found. This is how doctors can tell that it is cancer that has spread from another part of the body.
Metastatic cancer has the same name as the primary cancer. For example, breast cancer that spreads to the lung is called metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer. It is treated as stage IV breast cancer, not as lung cancer.
Sometimes when people are diagnosed with metastatic cancer, doctors cannot tell where it started. This type of cancer is called cancer of unknown primary origin, or CUP. See the Carcinoma of Unknown Primary page for more information.
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Can You Have Lung Cancer For Years And Not Know It
Early lung cancer does not alert obvious physical changes. Moreover, patients can live with lung cancer for many years before they show any signs or symptoms. For example, it takes around eight years for a type of lung cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma to reach a size of 30 mm when it is most commonly diagnosed.
Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of cancer, but also the least likely to spread. In particular, BCCs rarely spread beyond the initial tumor site. However, left untreated, BCCs can grow deeper into the skin and damage surrounding skin, tissue, and bone. Occasionally, a BCC can become aggressive, spreading to other parts of the body and even becoming life threatening. Also, the longer you wait to have your BCC treated, the more likely it is to return after treatment. Like BCCs, SCCs are highly curable when caught and treated early. However, if left to develop without treatment, an SCC can become invasive to skin and tissue beyond the original skin cancer site, causing disfigurement and even death. Over 15,000 Americans die each year from SCCs. And even if untreated carcinomas dont result in death, they can lead to large, open lesions on the skin that can cause discomfort, embarrassment, and infection.
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Untreated Prostate Cancer No Death Sentence
By Frederik Joelving, Reuters Health
4 Min Read
NEW YORK â Even without treatment, only a small minority of men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer die from the disease, Swedish researchers reported Friday.
Drawing from a national cancer register, they estimated that after 10 years prostate cancer would have killed less than three percent of these men.
What the data is showing is that for most patients with low-risk cancer, there is no need to panic, said Grace Lu-Yao, a cancer researcher who was not involved in the new study. Prostate cancer really is no longer a fatal disease.
With modern screening tests, said Lu-Yao, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick, many prostate cancers are found that might never have developed into serious disease. In such cases, the slight reduction of risk by surgically removing the prostate or treating it with radiation may not outweigh the substantial side effects of these treatments.
In the Swedish study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers compared deaths among more than 6,800 men with prostate cancer who underwent treatment â surgery or radiation â or were simply monitored regularly by their doctors, the so-called watchful waiting approach. With watchful waiting, patients are only treated if their cancer progresses.
The Swedish findings jibe with earlier results, including a large US study.
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How Long Can You Live With Inoperable Lung Cancer
How long can you live with inoperable lung cancer? Life Expectancy for Inoperable Lung CancerYour outlook will depend on several things, including the cancer type and the stage at diagnosis. About 20.5% of people who have any kind of lung cancer live at least 5 years after diagnosis.
How long can you live with incurable lung cancer? About half of patients have metastatic disease at time of diagnosis. On average, patients with metastatic lung cancer survive less than 1 year, and fewer than 5% survive beyond 5 years, according to background information provided by researchers.
Does inoperable cancer mean terminal? Remember, the fact that your cancer is inoperable does not mean it is untreatable or terminal. You may be able to shrink your tumor, control its symptoms, prevent its spread, or go into remission.
Why cant lung cancer patients work? Surgery isnt usually used to treat this type of lung cancer. This is because the cancer has often already spread to other areas of the body by the time its diagnosed. However, if the cancer is found very early, surgery may be used.
Meeting The Challenges Of Stage Iv
- To understand your situation, you may want to get a second opinion. Many people find that it helps to get an opinion from another oncologist, and many doctors encourage it.
- Your doctor can help you cope with cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. For example, if you have pain, your treatment might include surgery to remove a tumor in a painful area. Your doctor might also prescribe pain medication or anti-nausea medication
Survival And Clinical Outcome
Fifty-nine patients had died of melanoma progression at the time of the analysis, among which 32 died with progressing brain metastases. The median overall survival duration from the time of initial brain metastasis was 12.8 months , and the median overall survival duration from the time of initial melanoma diagnosis was 60.5 months for all 79 patients. The median overall survival durations from the time of craniotomy and stereotactic radiosurgery were 17.3 months and 15.4 months , respectively. The median survival durations of patients who received anti-CTLA-4 antibody, anti-PD-1 antibody and BRAF inhibitor after the diagnosis of brain metastasis were 19.2 months , 37.9 months and 12.7 months , respectively. Tables and describe the outcomes of the entire cohort as well as specific subsets of patients. Figures and illustrate the Kaplan-Meier curves of overall survival for all patients and for those who were treated with or without anti-PD-1 therapy, respectively.
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