Melanoma Cancer Stages

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Melanoma cancer is a common skin cancer. This is one of the toughest cancers to fight. Melanoma cancer stages define the spread of the cancer in different parts of the body. This is a cancer which metastasizes very fast compared to any other type of cancer. As soon as the stage of the cancer is determined, one should undergo an appropriate treatment. There are various stages present in the medical history of this cancer. It can be staged in a very easy way because this cancer is very aggressive and the stages also help in determining the prognosis of this cancer.

The most common description of the stage of this cancer is TNM stage.

  • T stands for defining the tumor present in the body
  • N stands for node. This will indicate that if the cancer has spread to any of the nodes in the body
  • M stands for metastasis of cancer. This shows the spread of cancer in all the other parts of the body

The stage T can be followed by 'a' and 'b'; where 'a' stands for no ulceration in the body and 'b' stands for ulceration in the tumor. This is a severe case in the cancer. This is a symptom which states that the cancer has reached the top most layer of the skin and can spread rigorously.

In simple terms, this means that, thicker the lesion more spread of the cancer has occurred. The stage determines the future of the patient. If the cancer has reached the stage which is very late, this cancer turns out to be life threatening in most of the cases.

Melanoma cancer stages

  1. Stage 0: - Stage 0 is called as melanoma in situ. This is the stage where the cancer has just started to grow. In this state, the cancer has just started and the size of the tumor is very small.

  2. Stage 1: - If the cancer is detected in this stage, the rate of survival is the highest. This cancer is the most curable in stage 1, However, there are two parameters in stage 1:-

    • Stage 1 A- This is the state where the tumor has not spread at all. It has not even formed as an ulcer. This is a state where the tumor is not more than 1 mm. This is a stage which has the highest five year rate of survival.

    • Stage 1B- In this stage, the tumor has not spread to the lymph nodes and is almost the size of 1 mille meter. But the tumor has ulcerated. In some cases there is no ulceration seen in the tumor, but the size of the tumor reaches about 2 mille meter. In this case the rate of survival drops to about 85 %

  3. Stage 2: - As it is known that this cancer has the fastest rate of metastasis, the cancer can be cured in this stage as well but can get a little complicated, because the cells might have spread to other places as well. This is a cancer where not only surgical therapy but also other forms of treatment may be suggested to the patient.

    • Stage 2A- in this stage as well the tumor does not reach the nodes but it is ulcerated and is almost 2 millimeter in size. If it is not ulcerated, then this cancer is almost 4 millimeter in size. The rate of survival is dropped to almost 75 % if it is detected in this stage.

    • Stage 2B- The tumor does not spread to the nodes, but the size of the tumor is large and can be felt by touch. In this case, the tumor is between 3 to 4 millimeter if it has no ulceration and beyond 5 millimeter if it is ulcerated.

    • Stage 2C- This is the final stage for the cancer to become severe. The size of the tumor is beyond 5 millimeter and is heavily ulcerated.

  4. Stage 3: - This is the stage where other organs begin to damage. This happens because melanoma cancer has started to metastasize. The rate of survival drops very low as it is tough to control this cancer now onwards.

    • Stage 3A- In this stage, the tumor is still of the same size and is not ulcerated. But this cancer has spread on to the nodes. In this stage, the cancer has spread on to almost 3 nodes but it is only visible under microscopic examination

    • Stage 3B- This is a complicated state and can be judged in many scenarios:

      • It may be possible that the spread of the cancer to the 3 nodes (no enlargement) and is evident only in a microscopic test and not in a clinical trial.
      • There is an enlargement in the nodes, which makes the cancer more severe and various tests can be done to determine melanoma cancer.
      • The tumor is ulcerated and has spread to the nearby skin of infected primary site. This is called as satellite melanoma.

    • Stage 3C- In this stage, there are only 2 possibilities-

      • The tumor is ulcerated, spread into 3 lymph nodes and has massively enlarged the nodes
      • The tumor can be of any size and thickness. The melanoma cancer has spread to almost 5 or more lymph nodes and lumps are formed because of accumulation of cells. This is the time where other organs are affected (20%)

  5. Stage 4:- This is a stage where the cancer has gone beyond the primary and regional lymph nodes. The cancer has reached distant places like brain, lungs, liver etc. It is tough to control because of severe metastasis of the cancer.

Melanoma cancer stages get severe as the time passes and it is difficult to treat this cancer. As the stage of the cancer rises the health of the patient deteriorates. This is a cancer which develops without any early sign or symptom. The survival rate of melanoma cancer also keeps on diminishing because of the fast growth of this cancer.

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