The prognosis with melanoma is related to how advanced the disease is when it is diagnosed. The abnormal cells first spread across the surface of the skin, then begin to spread downwards, eventually breaking free and travelling to the lymph nodes (‘glands’), and then progressing on to other sites in the body.
When the melanoma is very thin (i.e. less than 0.76 mm thick, or confined to the very upper levels of the skin), the chances of cure are better than 90 percent. However, as the thickness progresses to several millimeters, the prognosis becomes poorer.
Sometimes the melanoma has already spread to the glands in the groin, armpit or neck, and a more complex operation is needed to remove the affected glands. If required, a chest X-ray and CT or MRI scan will be requested to check for further spread.
Every individual’s prognosis is different. Whilst we can counsel you on your risks, it pays to keep a positive attitude about the future, as some people with very thick melanomas can live for many years.