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What Is Metastatic Malignant Melanoma

Cancer May Spread From Where It Began To Other Parts Of The Body

What Is Metastatic Melanoma? | Skin Cancer

When cancer spreads to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. Cancer cells break away from where they began and travel through the lymph system or blood.

  • Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
  • Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.

The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if melanoma spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually melanoma cells. The disease is metastatic melanoma, not lung cancer.

Is There Actually A Difference In Meaning When Someone Says Malignant Melanoma As Opposed To Just Melanoma

Whenever someone says malignant melanoma, or rather, WRITES this for an online article, its a pretty safe bet that the person whos using this oxymoron is a layperson a blogger or reporter of some sort.

Dont be led astray when you see the double M.

To some people out there, the double M implies that just melanoma means a benign mole or spot!

Unfortunately, I see the use of the double M all the time on blogs and even medical sites written by so-called medical writers. Its a common mistake.

Melanoma is always malignant, although there are different grades and variants, says Sharyn Laughlin, MD, board certified dermatologist and co-founder of the DermaEnvy Skincare line of sun protection products and medical director of Laserderm, a pioneering laser skin surgery clinic in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The use of the term MM or malignant melanoma seems to be unnecessary and inappropriate in my opinion. The addition of malignant to melanoma is clearly redundant.

There is no such thing as a benign melanoma. The benign refers to the common mole or birth mark, a skin barnacle, freckle, age spot or lentigo. Below is a guide on what to look for on your skin.

Prognosis For Metastatic Melanoma

Until recent years, a metastatic melanoma prognosis gave patients very little reason to hope.

But since 2011, physicians have had access to remarkable new drugs that are helping many patients live significantly longer.

Many patients with malignant melanoma are responding to the new treatments, extending their lives by months and years. Some are even going into long-term remission.

The currently available data puts the five-year survival rate for stage 3 cancer at between 40 and 78 percent , and for stage 4 melanoma at 15 to 20 percent.

But those numbers are expected to go up now that doctors are treating more and more patients with new drugs.

A study published in March 2017 in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology focused on patients with stage 4 metastatic melanoma and found that new drugs available since 2011 were, in fact, extending lives.

Three-year survival for patients who entered stage 4 in 2013 and 2014 was 37 percent, compared with in March 2017 those who entered stage 4 in 2011 and 2012 .

Recommended Reading: What Does Stage 3 Melanoma Look Like

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 Can Melanoma Spread To The Brain

Metastatic Melanoma On A Leg Photograph by National Cancer ...

While melanoma normally begins in the skin, cancer cells sometimes grow and break away from the place where the cancer began. The cells that break away often travel to nearby:

  • Blood vessels

  • Lymph nodes

Once in the blood or lymph , the melanoma cells often travel to the lungs, liver, spleen, or brain.

Cancer cells growing bigger than normal cells

Cancer cells can grow, break off, and spread.

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What Do Stage 4 Tumors Look Like

A change to an existing mole or normal skin can be the first sign that the cancer has spread. But the physical symptoms of stage 4 melanoma arent the same for everyone. A doctor will diagnose stage 4 melanoma by looking at the primary tumor, the spread to nearby lymph nodes, and whether the tumor has spread to different organs. While your doctor wont base their diagnosis only on what your tumor looks like, part of their diagnosis involves looking at the primary tumor.

There Are Three Ways That Cancer Spreads In The Body

Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:

  • Tissue. The cancer spreads from where it began by growing into nearby areas.
  • Lymph system. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the lymph system. The cancer travels through the lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
  • Blood. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the blood. The cancer travels through the blood vessels to other parts of the body.

Read Also: Well-differentiated Squamous Cell Carcinoma Prognosis

Signs Of Melanoma Include A Change In The Way A Mole Or Pigmented Area Looks

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by melanoma or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • A mole that:
  • changes in size, shape, or color.
  • has irregular edges or borders.
  • is more than one color.
  • is asymmetrical .
  • itches.
  • oozes, bleeds, or is ulcerated .
  • A change in pigmented skin.
  • Satellite moles .
  • For pictures and descriptions of common moles and melanoma, see Common Moles, Dysplastic Nevi, and Risk of Melanoma.

    Where Do These Numbers Come From

    What Is Metastatic Breast Cancer?

    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.

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    Warning Disclaimer Use For Publication

    WARNING: Please DO NOT STOP MEDICATIONS without first consulting a physician since doing so could be hazardous to your health.

    DISCLAIMER: All material available on is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. All information is observation-only. Our phase IV clinical studies alone cannot establish cause-effect relationship. Different individuals may respond to medication in different ways. Every effort has been made to ensure that all information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. The use of the eHealthMe site and its content is at your own risk.

    If you use this eHealthMe study on publication, please acknowledge it with a citation: study title, URL, accessed date.

    Occurrence In The United States

    The American Cancer Society estimates that 106,110 cases of cutaneous melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021 . Overall rates of melanoma rose rapidly over the past 3 decades. From 2007 to 2016, the rate increased by 2.2% per year in men and women ages 50 and older, while decreasing by 1.2% per year in individuals younger than 50 years of age.

    Although melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers, it is responsible for the vast majority of deaths from skin cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that 7180 people in the US will die of melanoma in 2021.

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    Roles Of Surgery Radiation Therapy And Systemic Therapy

    The presence of distant metastases usually reflects hematogenous dissemination of melanoma cells. The cornerstone of treatment for metastatic melanoma is systemic therapy to address the subclinical sites of metastases as well. Locoregional treatment modalities such as surgery or radiation are usually reserved for palliation of symptoms due to local tumor growth.

    Molecularly Targeted Therapy For Melanoma

    Malignant melanoma guide
    • Ipilimumab is a monoclonalantibody that targets CTLA-4. It can increase survival in metastatic melanoma.
    • Vemurafenib, sorafenib and dabrafenib target the BRAF protein which is mutated in some metastatic melanomas. Trametinib inhibits the MAPK signalling pathway in melanoma with BRAF mutations. Cobimetinib is a MEKinhibitor that is taken in combination with vemurafenib. These new drugs can lead to a very good initial improvement but eventually, the metastatic melanoma progresses.
    • Pembrolizumab targets the programmed death 1 receptor and can be used in patients with all forms of melanoma. Favourable response rates were demonstrated in clinical trial data from 173 patients with melanoma in the KEYNOTE-001 study.
    • Nivolumab is a human programmed death receptor-1 blocking antibody. The Check-Mate studies indicated clinical benefit in metastatic melanoma.
    • Therapies which block the formation of new blood vessels can also be helpful as additional treatments.
    • A number of vaccines for melanoma have been developed with the aim of stimulating the immune system to fight the melanoma cells. Unfortunately, these have had disappointing results to date.

    With a range of new therapies being developed and studied for melanoma, some patients choose to participate in a clinical trial. This can mean having access to a treatment that wouldnt otherwise be possible.

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    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.

    Cardiac Metastatic Malignant Melanoma Treatment

    Cardiac metastatic malignant melanoma is an advanced manifestation of tumor development. Treatment is mainly to relieve symptoms and support the whole body, such as anemia, edema, hypoproteinemia and so on. When there is pleural or pericardial effusion, puncture and drainage as soon as possible or catheter drainage should be performed to reduce the pressure on the heart and lungs. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy can also be used for those with better systemic status, but malignant melanoma is more insensitive to the former, and the latter has a certain effect on enhancing the body’s immunity. Radiotherapy can be used as an experimental treatment, and can also confirm the presence or absence of cardiac metastases. Arrhythmias can sometimes be controlled with digitalis treatment.

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    How Is Melanoma Treated When It Spreads To The Brain

    Scientists have learned that attacking this cancer with different types of treatment can improve how well each individual treatment works.

    According to the Emory Medical Center, doctors used this approach to treat Mr. Carter. His treatment began with surgery. This was followed by radiation therapy and immunotherapy .

    Keep all of your follow-up appointments

    Research shows that the earlier melanoma is found in the brain, the more effective treatment can be.

    When melanoma spreads to the brain, the treatment plan may include:

    Surgery: Doctors may recommend surgery to:

    • Remove the tumor.

    • Reduce the size of a tumor. This can make other treatments more effective.

    • Take out some of the tumor so that it can be examined. This allows your doctors to choose the medication most likely to help.

    • Relieve symptoms, such as headaches.

    While surgery can remove existing tumors, other treatment often follows. This approach helps to kill cancer cells that surgery cannot remove.

    Following surgery, you may be treated with radiation, medication, or both.

    Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy helps to kill cancer cells that are too small to be seen. It may also be a treatment option when several tumors have formed in the brain or surgery is too risky.

    Two types of radiation therapy are used to treat melanoma in the brain:

    The type of radiation used depends on many considerations, including the number of tumors and where they appear in the brain.

    Supportive care can:

    What Is Metastatic Melanoma

    Melanoma treatment and immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma

    Metastatic melanoma occurs when the cancerous cells from the original tumor get loose, travel through the lymph or blood circulation, and start a new tumor somewhere else. Once it spreads, or metastasizes, the disease is known as metastatic melanoma. This type of melanoma may typically occur during stage III or stage IV. Common sites for metastases include the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, bones and brain.

    About 106,110 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2021, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology . Approximately 4 percent of people are diagnosed with melanomas that have spread to distant parts of the body, according to the ASCO. This is the most advanced stage of metastatic melanoma.

    The percentage of people diagnosed with melanoma that has spread to nearby lymph nodes is 8.5 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute . These cases have a slightly better prognosis.

    From 2014 to 2018, the incidence rate of melanoma that had spread to distant parts of the body was 0.9 per 100,000 people, according to the NCI.

    Melanoma tumors that have metastasized to other parts of the body are still considered melanoma. For example, melanoma found in the lungs is called metastatic melanoma of the lung or melanoma with lung metastases.

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    The Spread Of Melanoma Metastasis

    If you or a family member or friend have recently been diagnosed with melanoma, you may be wondering, just where and why can melanoma spread?

    With surgery, melanoma confined to the skin has a 5-year survival rate in 98% of cases. Unfortunately, if the lesion recurs , gets thicker, or spreads from the skin to the lymph nodes or distant organs, it becomes much more dangerous. This occurs in stage III and IV melanoma and is called melanoma metastasis.

    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.

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    How Quickly Should Melanoma Be Removed

    Hypothesis-based, informal guidelines recommend treatment within 46 weeks. In this study, median surgical intervals varied significantly between clinics and departments, but nearly all were within a 6-week frame. Key words: melanoma, surgical interval, treatment time, melanoma survival, time factors.

    Treatment Of Stage Ii Melanoma

    Metastatic melanoma skin cancer

    For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

    Treatment of stage II melanoma may include the following:

    Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

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    Symptoms Of Metastatic Melanomas

    Melanoma usually is found in early stages, before its become metastatic. If you notice any abnormal moles or discolorations on your skin, dont hesitate to reach out to your doctor. This is especially important for those with many risk factors. Melanoma is more treatable at early stages, so early identification may prevent metastatic melanoma from developing.

    Though a primary tumor is typically found, its possible that metastatic melanoma is detected elsewhere in the body and causes symptoms without any signs of a primary tumor.

    Metastatic melanoma symptoms and signs may include:

    • Fatigue


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