What is metastatic melanoma?
Metastatic melanoma simply means that the melanoma has spread from its initial site in the body. There are four stages of melanoma. The first two stages of the cancer are localized to the skin. In stages three and four, the melanoma has spread beyond the skin and into the lymph nodes and/or distant organs, like the liver, lungs, brain, bone or soft tissues. This is when it is considered metastatic melanoma.
How does this happen?
Once melanoma has begun growing in the skin it can break off and spread to new sites through the lymphatic system /or blood vessels.
Read about: early melanoma symptoms
Metastatic melanoma symptoms
Once the melanoma has metastasized to the lymphatic system and internal organs, symptoms can be entirely different from those of other suspicious moles.
Some metastatic melanoma symptoms include:
- hard or swollen lymph nodes (these are located throughout the body but large groupings are around the neck, armpits and groin regions).
- hard lumps in your skin
- shortness of breath, chest pain, noisy breathing or a cough that won’t go away
- pain in your liver (located on the right side of your stomach)
- achy bones
- a headache that won’t go away
- bowel issues and constipation
- chronic fatigue
If you notice any of the above melanoma metastasis symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible. While they may be signs of another illness, it is important to have them checked so you can be sure of their exact cause.
Read here about: Melanoma – When to see a doctor
How does metastatic melanoma spread?
Melanoma occurs when melanocyte cells found in the epidermis (the top layer of our skin) start growing excessively and take over surrounding tissues. These cells can develop from existing moles or skin growths. But, more commonly, they start as new growth. Once melanoma has begun growing in the skin, it can become and spread to new sites through the lymphatic system or blood vessels.
When it has spread beyond the skin, and into the lymph nodes or distant organs. Like the liver, lungs, brain, bone or soft tissues, it is considered metastatic melanoma.
Metastatic melanoma can be treated through surgeries to remove the tumors with:
- other treatments.
Survival rates vary depending on:
- how much the melanoma has spread
- the thickness of the melanomas
- other factors.
Read more about: Melanoma spread quickly
Stay on top of your health
Remember, be vigilant so that you can catch skin cancer in its early stages. Perform monthly skin-checks to spot any suspicious moles before they spread deeper into the skin. Read up on the early symptoms of melanoma and how to spot them and download SkinVision to begin checking your moles.
Read more about: Where does melanoma metastasize