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Melanoma (cont.)

Melanoma Follow-up

Once a melanoma has been diagnosed and treated, it is important for the patient to be seen regularly by a physician. This is for

  1. monitoring the patient for metastatic melanoma;
  2. monitoring for new melanomas;
  3. various diagnostic modalities are used to monitor the progress metastatic melanoma, including chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, and PET scan; and
  4. biopsy of any suspicious cutaneous masses.

What Is the Prognosis of Melanoma?

Prognosis is most closely related to the thickness of the melanoma as measured by the pathologist. Other factors of importance include

  • the anatomic depth of penetration,
  • ulceration,
  • mitotic activity (rate of cell dividing),
  • gene expression studies, and
  • stage of the melanoma.

This is why it is of great importance to remove the entire melanoma at its earliest stage to preclude the possibility of metastatic spread, as well as determining the accurate thickness of the tumor.

In addition, new genetic tests are available that can help predict a particular tumor's sensitivity of a variety drug regimens. For example, patients whose melanoma expresses a BRAF mutation are likely to respond to vemurafenib and dabrafenib with a substantial prolongation of overall survival. Other mutations signify that other drugs are more likely to be effective.

What Are Melanoma Survival Rates?

The 10-year melanoma survival rates, according to stage, are as follows:

  • Stage I: 85%-96%
  • Stage II: 57%-67%
  • Stage III: 24%-68%
  • Stage IV: 10%-15%

Is It Possible to Prevent Melanoma?

There is general agreement that ultraviolet light is the major environmental cause of most cutaneous melanomas. Avoiding ultraviolet light exposure by eliminating sunbathing (for cosmetic purposes, including artificial tanning), wearing appropriate clothing, and using effective sunscreens are prudent methods to prevent melanomas, as well as most other sorts of skin cancer and photoaging. Concerns about vitamin D deficiency are overcome by taking supplements containing at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day.

For More Information on Melanoma

Melanoma Care Coalition


Yao, Katharine, Glen Balch, and David J. Winchester. "Multidisciplinary Treatment of Primary Melanoma." Surg Clin N Am 89 (2009): 267-281.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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