What Is the Prognosis for Melanoma?


Quick Answer

The prognosis for melanoma depends on the thickness of the tumor and whether or not the cancer has spread, according to MedicineNet. Melanomas measuring less than 1 millimeter have an excellent treatment success rate. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

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Full Answer

Doctors determine tumor thickness utilizing a measure called the Clark's level, explains MedicineNet. This measure shows how many layers of skin the tumor has penetrated. The Breslow's depth is the actual thickness of the tumor. The prognosis is better for tumors that have a low Clark's level and small Breslow's depth.

Doctors perform a procedure called a sentinel node biopsy to determine whether the melanoma has spread, explains Mayo Clinic. The doctor injects a dye into the location where the melanoma was removed and tests the first nearby lymph nodes that take up the dye for cancer. If these lymph nodes do not have cancer, the melanoma likely has not spread to other locations. The melanoma can, however, still recur or spread.

Other factors indicating the aggressiveness of a melanoma include whether there is an open sore over the area and the amount of dividing cancer cells found, reports Mayo Clinic. Melanoma has four stages. The first stage of melanoma has a high treatment success rate. The last stage indicates cancer that has spread to other organs and has a poorer prognosis.

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