Skin Cancer, Melanoma (cont.)
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Melanoma develops when normal pigment-producing skin cells called melanocytes become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and invade surrounding tissues. Usually only one melanoma develops at a time. Although melanomas can begin in an existing mole or other skin growth, most start in unmarked skin. Melanoma is classified as primary or metastatic.
If not treated, most melanomas spread to other parts of the body over time. Melanomas rarely go away without treatment.
Your long-term survival, or prognosis, with primary melanoma depends on:
Metastatic melanoma has spread through the lymph system to nearby skin, lymph nodes, or through the bloodstream to other organs such as the brain or the liver. Metastatic melanoma usually cannot be cured. Clinical trials may offer the best treatment option for people with metastatic cancer.
Experts talk about prognosis in terms of "5-year survival rates." The 5-year survival rate means the percentage of people who are still alive 5 years or longer after their cancer was discovered. Remember that these are only averages. Everyone's case is different, and these numbers do not necessarily show what will happen to you. The estimated 5-year survival rate for melanoma is:2
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