Melanoma Skin Cancer Stages

Melanoma Skin Cancer

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It’s believed to be caused by a malfunction in a DNA mechanism triggered by excessive sun exposure. Melanoma Skin Cancer.org urges people to inspect their moles regularly according to “ABCDE” warning signs, especially if you frequent sun basking or disease runs in your family. Something that may appear as a black of brown mole with asymmetrical (A) edges and borders (B) that could be raised may in fact be melanoma. If the color (C) of your mole changes over time or you notice that it may look multi-colored with its diameter (D) measuring larger than a pencil eraser, or it has signs of evolvement (E), it’s time to book an appointment with your dermatologist.

Dermatologists recognize several stages of melanoma skin cancer, and the stage helps determine exactly what treatment methods will be used and how far the disease has spread. This cancer is staged from I to IV depending on the thickness of the mole and its diameter, with each stage having its own subcategories. Breslow’s thickness helps oncologists determine how deep in the skin the cancer has spread. Stage I may appear as a slightly cancerous mole or lesion, and at this stage the cancer has not spread below the epidermis of your skin. Melanoma skin cancer that has reached stage II has gone deeper than epidermis, but it has not spread to any nearby lymph nodes and the tumor is less than one millimeter in size. At stage I the survival rate is between ninety and ninety five percent when the cancer is surgically removed.

Stage II melanoma skin cancer is identified by a tumor which has not spread to the lymph nodes, but is larger than one millimeter and may or may not be ulcerated. The survival rate for stage II can range from close to eighty percent down to around forty five percent when five year survival is examined. The actual percentage will depend on the size and ulceration status of the tumor. This type of skin cancer on face areas is usually caught quickly, because of high visibility, but most melanomas may appear on other areas of the body instead.

In stages III melanoma skin cancer has traveled to affect close lying lymph nodes and organs or as doctors say it, has metastized. This stage is considered more advanced and treatment for this melanoma skin cancer is much more aggressive with survival rates dramatically dropping. In stage IV melanoma patients experience cancer that has spread to even distant lymph nodes and organs from the original site of the tumor. The 5 year survival rates for stage IV are only about 15-20%.

The type of treatment(s) your doctor recommends will depend on the stage and location of the melanoma and on your overall health (cancer.org).

Melanoma is not the only type of skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is less aggressive and is more frequently diagnosed. Basal skin cancer is different from the melanoma type because basal tumors spread very slowly. Another non melanoma type of cancer is squamous cell carcinoma that may be a result of skin injury. To learn more on this topic, please check out other articles on the site.

References:

http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma

http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/the-stages-of-melanoma/guide-to-staging-melanoma