What Is Invasive Melanoma?

Invasive melanoma refers to melanoma cancer that has penetrated deeper into the skin and may have even spread to other parts of the body, explains the Skin Cancer Foundation. There are four basic categories of melanomas. Three of them begin on the top layers of the skin and only become invasive after a long period of time. The fourth category of melanoma is invasive from the beginning.

Melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body is also called metastatic melanoma, advanced melanoma or stage 4 melanoma, according to WebMD. Invasive melanoma is very difficult to cure, but treatments and support help patients live longer and improve quality of life.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from either tanning beds or the sun is typically the cause of melanoma, as stated by WebMD. Such radiation damages the DNA of skin cells, causing the cells to grow out of control.

Invasive melanoma often spreads to tissues under the skin, lymph nodes, lungs, the liver, or the brain, according to WebMD. Symptoms indicating that melanoma has spread to other areas of the body include hardened lumps under the skin, swollen or painful lymph nodes, difficulty breathing, swelling of the liver and bone pain.