Always consult your physician for more information regarding the staging of melanoma. If doctors diagnose melanoma, the doctor needs to learn the extent, or stage, of the disease before planning treatment. Staging is an attempt to learn how thick the tumor is, how deeply the melanoma has invaded the skin, and whether melanoma cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body, or not.
During staging, the doctor will perform a careful physical exam and, if the tumor is thick, may order chest x-rays, blood tests, and/or other imaging scans to confirm or exclude the possibility of the spread of cancer. Doctors may also remove nearby lymph nodes to check for cancer cells during the staging process.
Stages of melanoma
Stage 0 - Abnormal cells are found only in the outer layer of skin and have not invaded deeper tissue.
Stage 1 - Cancer is found in the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and/or the upper part of the inner layer of skin (dermis), but it has not spread to nearby lymph nodes. The tumor is less than 1.5 mm thick.
Stage 2 - The tumor has spread to the lower part of the inner layer of skin (dermis), but not into the tissue below the skin or into nearby lymph nodes. The tumor is larger than 1.5 mm thick.
Stage 3 - The tumor has spread to the body tissue below the skin and to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 4 - The tumor has spread to other organs, or to lymph nodes far away from the original tumor.
Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but it is far more serious. Melanoma can almost always be cured in its early stages. But it is likely to spread to other parts of the body if it is not caught early. How do doctors currently treat melanoma? Continue reading for more information on melanoma treatments and cure for melanoma in the section that follows.