To determine the stage of melanoma the lesion (the area of the skin being reviewed) needs to be removed along with some healthy tissue and then examined. The lesion will be measured using a microscope in millimetres and some other factors will be considered which are highlighted below. The classification below is a way of describing the stage of development and the risk profile of the melanoma skin cancer.
Stage 0 Melanoma
The melanoma cells are only found in the outer layer of skin. This stage is also known as “in-situ” melanoma.
Stage 1 Melanoma
The melanoma is only found in the skin and is very thin. Stage 1 melanoma is divided into two sub-groups 1A or 1B. This sub-group diagnosis depends on the thickness of the tumour and whether there is any ulceration.
Stage 2 Melanoma
The melanoma is still only found in the skin but has penetrated to a inner level. In technical speak, has extended from the epidermis to the dermis. At this stage there is no sign that the tumour has spread to any lymph nodes. , Stage 2 is divided into sub-groups, this time three: A, B and C depending on the thickness of the tumour and the level of ulceration.
Stage 3 Melanoma
The melanoma has now spread beyond the skin locally to a regional lymph node. There are four sub-groups of stage 3 melanoma: A, B, C or D. This is determined by a number of factors including the number of lymph nodes impacted, whether there are also satellite lesions and the level of ulceration.
Stage 4 Melanoma
The melanoma has spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, either to other parts of the skin, distant lymph nodes or even other organs which may include your lung, liver, brain or bone. Stage 4 is separately broken down into four sub-groups: A, B, C and D which indicates how far the cancer has spread beyond the initial lesion to other parts of the skin or vital organs.
Melanomas are primarily caused by cumulative exposure to UV light.
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