According to one recent study conducted in part by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, our melanoma problem may be a lot more severe than people realise. There were 134,174 new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2017 alone. Sadly, 47,753 people lost their lives to the disease during the same period of time.
But one thing a lot of people don’t necessarily realise is that melanoma tends to develop slowly over time. From its initial development, it goes through several stages before it works its way to the riskier final stages.
Therefore, understanding the stages of melanoma development and what they look like helps mitigate risks associated with family history, lifestyle or both.
Melanoma Stage 0: The Early Days
Though it may seem like a misnomer, the first part of melanoma development actually begins not with stage 1, but stage 0. This is commonly referred to as melanoma in situ. While cancer cells are certainly present on your body, in this stage, they have yet to spread anywhere else.
During stage 0, melanoma cells are only on the outer layer of your skin. Any type of mole that tests positive for skin cancer will be less than 0.1 mm thick. If your skin cancer detection comes back at stage 0, consider yourself lucky — patients can typically remove all associated cells with little more than surgery.
Melanoma Stage 1: Advancement
Stage 1 is similar in nature to stage 0, but things have definitely showed signs of advancement at this point. The melanoma has yet to move beyond its primary site, and while any mole you have may have grown, it will still be less than 2 mm thick. The cells are beginning to spread into the deeper layers of your skin so your risk level is naturally going to be higher.
Melanoma Stage 2: Growth
One thing you'll notice is that while the mole or growth is not moving, it's certainly getting bigger. At this point, the cells have yet to move beyond the primary site, but will be at least 2 mm in thickness.
If you’ve been monitoring one or more of your moles and you see that they’ve begun to grow in size, it is imperative that you consult a medical professional quickly so that they can walk you through the removal process.
Melanoma Stage 3: The Spread
Stage 3 of melanoma is where the skin cancer cells themselves really start to spread elsewhere in your body. Oftentimes, they will spread to the lymph nodes and other tissues that are near the primary site.
At this point, you may have to surgically remove not only the skin cancer cells but also the lymph nodes. Likewise, you may also consider drug treatment and even certain dosages of radiation.
Melanoma Stage 4: Progression and Beyond
Once your skin cancer cells reach stage 4, they have begun to metastasize. They have likely already spread to distant parts of your body well away from the original site. This may include (but not limited to) areas like the lungs, liver, bones, and even the brain.
At this point, there are a number of options available to help people fight skin cancer as thoroughly as possible. Oftentimes, immunotherapy and targeted therapy are used to augment other systematic drug therapy techniques. Likewise, surgery and radiation may also be used in an effort to relieve the pain and other symptoms that a patient may be experiencing.
MoleMap: Because There's Nothing More Important than Early Skin Cancer Detection
Catching melanoma while it is still in its earliest and least threatening stages is absolutely essential to your long-term health. This is why proactive skin cancer checks and other detection methods are always recommended. They give you the best possible chance to do something about melanoma before it’s too late.
Internal audits of melanoma detected by MoleMap indicate an average thickness of 0.56mm. This indicates that the chances of detecting melanoma early are high in patients who get regular pro-active checks.
MoleMap is designed to be the fastest and most accurate way to detect skin cancer signs and symptoms.
If you’d like to find out more information about the stages of melanoma development, or if you have any other important questions that you’d like to see answered, please don’t delay — contact us at MoleMap today.
Feel free to visit our website and take our risk assessment calculator. This will keep you informed about specific types of threats based on factors like skin type, family history, and more.