Monday, April 15, 2024
HomeEditor PicksHow Often Does Melanoma Spread

How Often Does Melanoma Spread

How Does Melanoma Spread

How Cancer Spreads (Metastasis) – Michael Henry, PhD

Melanoma is a type of cancer. It develops in the cells that produce pigment, which is responsible for the skin’s color. Melanoma is considered the most lethal of the cancers that affect the skin. Unfortunately, melanoma spread can cause cancer to move from the skin cells to the internal organs. Melanoma spread can also cause cancer to develop in a persons lymph nodes.

Often, skin cancers do not spread this is because they are basal cell carcinomas, which dont usually spread. This type of skin cancer is often easier to cure. However, melanoma is different, and it spreads when cancerous cells get into the blood vessels near the melanoma or they make their way into lymphatic vessels. When the cells move into the blood vessels, they may be carried to other parts of the body, where they can develop in the organs. When they invade the lymphatic vessels, they are transported by the lymph fluid and drained, along with the fluid, into the lymph nodes.

What Is A 5

A relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of melanoma of the skin is 90%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 90% as likely as people who dont have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.

Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp.

In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than 1 colour.

The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.

Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.

Superficial spreading melanoma are the most common type of melanoma in the UK.

They’re more common in people with pale skin and freckles, and much less common in people with darker skin.

They initially tend to grow outwards rather than downwards, so they do not pose a problem.

But if they grow downwards into the deeper layers of skin, they can spread to other parts of the body.

You should see a GP if you have a mole that’s getting bigger, particularly if it has an irregular edge.

Read Also: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Survival Rate

Prognosis And Survival For Melanoma Skin Cancer

If you have melanoma skin cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors best estimate of how cancer will affect someone and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type and stage of the cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together. They both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.

The following are prognostic and predictive factors for melanoma skin cancer.

The Questions Should Be How Much Melanoma Can You Pick Off And Will Picking At A Melanoma Make It Spread

Symptoms and Pictures of Stage 4 Melanoma

This deadliest of skin cancers doesnt just grow on the skin surface, but below it.

It is the remaining portion in and below the surface of the skin that has the potential to spread, and do what melanoma tragically does so often, which is kill people, says Neal Schultz, MD, a dermatologist with a private practice in the NYC area, and founder of

The disease kills about 10,000 Americans every year, yet it is perhaps the most curable form of cancer when caught early enough.

Recommended Reading: Is An Itchy Neck A Sign Of Cancer

Does Ocular Melanoma Spread To The Brain

However, it is found that ocular melanoma can spread to any organ in the body. After the liver, common sites where eye cancer cells can travel are the lung, brain, and bones. Around 50% of ocular melanoma patients will develop metastasis within 15 years of their original medical diagnosis. Once the liver is involved, cancer becomes incurable. However, if metastatic disease is detected in the early phase, there are a few localized and systemic treatment procedures available that may improve the life expectancy of the patient and help in the improvement of the lifestyle for patients.

Regardless of the treatment options selected, ocular melanoma may represent lasting complications, even for patients who have a good prognosis with cancer. Patients can develop glaucoma as its complication, which is caused by the pressure of tumors within the eye, leading to pain. If surgery is conducted to remove these cancer cells, patients may have the risk of full or segmented vision loss as the function of the cranial nerves that control the muscles around the eye may be lost. If the ocular melanoma spreads beyond the eye, the treatment depends on the site it has traveled. It gets more complicated to treat. While it most often affects the liver, in a few cases of metastasis, it can also go to the brain, which becomes more complicated to treat.

What Causes Metastatic Melanoma

Anyone can get melanoma, but most cases of melanoma are caused by UV radiation from sunlight some studies even put incidences of skin cancer caused by sun exposure at around 95%. The UV rays from the sun damage skin cells ability to repair DNA. When this happens, gene mutations can occur and the risk of cancer increases.

The risk of melanoma is higher in fair-skinned people as they have less melanin in their skin to protect from the suns rays. Risk is also higher if there is a history of melanoma in the family as gene mutations are often passed down from one generation to the next.

Read Also: Lobular Breast Cancer Stage 3

How Is Metastasis Detected

If your healthcare provider suspects that your melanoma may have spread, there are several tools available to verify the diagnosis. These include a blood test for lactate dehydrogenase , which increases when melanoma metastasizes, and imaging studies, such as chest X-ray, computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , positron emission tomography and ultrasound.

The practitioner may also need to take a sample of your lymph nodes, using a procedure called “sentinel lymph node mapping.” If confirmed, there are many treatments available, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: A Rare Skin Cancer On The Rise

What are the signs that my thyroid cancer has spread?

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer that affects about 2,000 people in the United States each year.

Though its an uncommon skin cancer, cases of Merkel cell carcinoma have increased rapidly in the last couple of decades.

This type of cancer starts when cells in the skin, called Merkel cells, start to grow out of control.

Merkel cell carcinomas typically grow quickly and can be difficult to treat if they spread.

They can start anywhere on the body, but Merkel cell carcinomas commonly affect areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and arms.

They may look like pink, red, or purple lumps that are firm when you touch them. Sometimes, they can open up as ulcers or sores.

Risk factors include:

Recommended Reading: Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Grade 2 Survival Rates

Benign Tumors That Start In Melanocytes

A mole is a benign skin tumor that develops from melanocytes. Almost everyone has some moles. Nearly all moles are harmless, but having some types can raise your risk of melanoma. See Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer for more information about moles.

A Spitz nevus is a kind of mole that sometimes looks like melanoma. Its more common in children and teens, but it can also be seen in adults. These tumors are typically benign and dont spread. But sometimes doctors have trouble telling Spitz nevi from true melanomas, even when looking at them under a microscope. Therefore, they are often removed, just to be safe.

Diagnosis Of Recurrent Melanoma

After your initial treatment, your specialist will see you regularly. They will check your skin for signs and symptoms of melanoma to see if it has come back . They may also check the rest of your skin to see if you have any other changes.

Tell your specialist if you have any symptoms of recurrent melanoma. For example, this might be a small lump under the scar. Your doctor or specialist nurse can tell you what to look for.

See also

Read Also: Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer Survival Rate

Doctors Want To Give Their Cancer Patients Every Chance But Are They Pushing Off Hard Talks Too Long

His team then gave mice implanted with human melanomas a weeklong regimen of an MCT1 blocker, AstraZenecas investigational AZD3965. Result: The animals had fewer melanoma cells in the blood and fewer metastases.

Inhibiting MCT1 doesnt have much effect on the primary tumor or on established metastases, Morrison said. But for cells in between, it can prevent metastasis and, at least in the mice, extend survival.

Although AstraZenecas MCT1 inhibitor is being tested in an early-stage clinical trial, the participants have solid tumors that have already metastasized. Morrison thinks thats too late: Oxidative stress kills cancer cells in the bloodstream, not once theyve reached their destination. If blocking MCT1 and thereby exposing tumor cells to oxidative stress in the bloodstream has any benefit, he said, it will be around stage 3, when cancer cells have reached the bloodstream and lymph nodes but not beyond.

Our prediction is that blocking MCT1 wont have much activity against stage 4 melanoma, but if used as an adjuvant therapy in stage 3, it might decrease the percentage of patients who progress to stage 4, Morrison said.

His discovery might extend beyond melanoma. Lung and pancreatic tumor cells also use MCT1 to grab lactate from the bloodstream, presumably enabling those cancers, too, to metastasize.

Early Detection Prevents Melanoma From Spreading

Merkel Cell Cancer Images

While there are still many mysteries when it comes to why and how melanoma develops, it is certain that the sooner melanoma is discovered, the lower the chances of it spreading and becoming deadly. Thats why its essential to perform regular skin checks and know the symptoms of melanoma so you can catch it early.

Recommended Reading: Metastatic Melanoma Cancer Life Expectancy

Symptoms Of Metastatic Melanoma Other Than A Mole

Other symptoms of this type of cancer may not appear until a later stage, when the melanoma has metastasized to another area of the body. Metastatic melanoma most often spreads to the lymph nodes, brain, bones, liver or lungs, and the additional symptoms experienced at this late stage will depend on where the melanoma has spread. For example:

  • Lungs A persistent cough or shortness of breath
  • Brain Headaches or seizures
  • Lymph nodes Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Liver Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
  • Bone Bone pain or unusual fractures

Mistaken For A Bruise

Many people first mistake subungual melanoma as a bruise.3,4 However, unlike a bruise, the streaks from subungual melanoma do not heal or grow out with the nail over time.4 It can also be confused with normal pigmentation of the nail bed or a fungal infection.2 While you can have a streak or bruising under the nail that isnt melanoma, you should ask a dermatologist to check your nails if you notice any changes.

Don’t Miss: Is A Sore That Doesn T Heal Always Cancer

Metastatic Behavior In Melanoma: Timing Pattern Survival And Influencing Factors

Faruk Tas

1Institute of Oncology, Istanbul University, 34390 Istanbul, Turkey


Metastatic melanoma is a fatal disease with a rapid systemic dissemination. This study was conducted to investigate the metastatic behavior, timing, patterns, survival, and influencing factors in MM. 214 patients with MM were evaluated retrospectively. Distant metastases were the most frequent for patients initially metastatic. The median and 1-year survival rates of initially MM patients were 10 months and 41%, respectively. The median time to metastasis for patients with localized disease was 28 months. The timing of appearance of metastases varied minimally however, times to metastases for distant organs varied greatly. For the first metastatic pathway, more than half of the primary metastases were M1A . These findings were in contrast to the results compared with those with metastatic in diagnosis . The median and 1-year survival rates of all patients were 12 months and 49%, respectively. Outcome was higher in M1A than visceral metastases . In conclusion, the fact that over half of all recurrences/metastases occurred within 3 years urges us to concentrate follow-up in the early time periods following diagnosis. Because the clinical behavior of MM is variable, the factors for survival consisting of site and number of metastases should be emphasized.

1. Introduction

2. Material and Methods

3.1. Metastases at Presentation
3.2. Metastases during Follow-Up

4. Discussion

How Do I Know If I Have Metastatic Melanoma

How Cancer Spreads

Most commonly affecting the skin, melanoma may first appear as an unusual mole that is asymmetrical, has a ragged border, has uneven coloring, is large in diameter or evolves over time. Other symptoms include a patch of scaly skin, a sore or itchy bump or a discoloration under the fingernails. Although the signs of early-stage melanoma are more clear-cut and visual, symptoms of metastatic melanoma will depend on where the cancer has spread. For example, melanoma that has spread to the lungs may result in a chronic cough, while cancer that has spread to the stomach may cause a loss of appetite or unexpected weight loss. Other generalized symptoms may include fatigue, headaches or swelling of the lymph nodes. It is important to note that there are many other, more common conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Therefore, it is important to consult with a physician who can perform the diagnostic tests necessary to confirm a metastatic melanoma diagnosis.

Recommended Reading: What Does Early Squamous Skin Cancer Look Like

Recommended Reading: What Is The Survival Rate For Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

How Fast Does Ocular Melanoma Spread

Ocular melanoma is an eye cancer characterized by overproduction and excess multiplication of pigment making cells in the eyes. It can affect various parts of the eyes, i.e., iris, ciliary body, and choroid. It mostly affects the eyeball. It can also develop in the eyelid or conjunctiva.

Metastatic melanoma is a general term used for cancer that grows beyond its original site. The liver is the most typical site where ocular melanoma tends to metastasize. It is found in clinical studies that when ocular melanoma progresses to metastatic disease, 90% of patients develop liver disease.

Although ocular melanoma is a progressive disease, it spreads slowly to distant parts of the body. Approximately 50% of patients with OM are likely to develop metastases in 10 to 15 years after its diagnosis. A small percentage of people may take 20-25 years after their initial diagnosis to establish metastases. Its metastatic nature shows it is a fatal disease. In most cases, it has a 50% mortality rate, which is not changed despite effective and modern treatment procedures employed for treating the primary eye tumor.

Although ocular melanoma is a rare cancer, it is the most common eye cancer. It is also reported that approximately 50% of people who are diagnosed with this type of cancer will develop metastatic disease. In 95% of the cases, the first organ affected by this cancer is the liver.

When Does Melanoma Return

Melanoma is most likely to return within the first 5 years of treatment.

If you remain melanoma free for 10 years, its less likely that the melanoma will return. But its not impossible. Studies show that melanoma can return 10, 15, and even 25 years after the first treatment. This happens less often.

Don’t Miss: Invasive Mammary Carcinoma Survival Rate

Why Are Brain Metastases So Difficult To Treat

There are several potential reasons:

  • There is growing evidence that brain tumors are very different from tumors in other parts of the body and may need to be treated differently.
  • The brain looks familiar. Melanocytes arise from the same part of the early embryo as the brain, so the brain might be a very natural environment for melanoma tumors to grow in.
  • Often, by the time a patient first exhibits symptoms, s/he already has multiple lesions, not just one.
  • Brain metastases tend to be very aggressive and even a small increase in their size can cause more symptoms.
  • The brain has many defenses to reduce the penetration of harmful substances. This system is called the blood-brain-barrier, and also it prevents many medications from entering the brain.
  • Treatment options may damage surrounding normal tissue and have significant impact on the quality of life.

Living As A Melanoma Skin Cancer Survivor

How to check your skin for skin cancer

For many people with melanoma, treatment can remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back. This is very common if youve had cancer.

For some people, the melanoma may never go away completely. These people may get regular treatment with immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, or other treatments to try to help keep the cancer under control for as long as possible. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful. It has its own type of uncertainty.

Also Check: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Survival


Popular Articles