Staging and How You Might Feel

Finding Out How Far the Disease Has Spread

Your health care provider will look at several things to figure out how far the disease may have spread. 

This may include:

  • The location of the distant metastases
  • Number and size of tumors
  • Serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level, an enzyme found in the blood and many body tissues. High levels of LDH may suggest that the tumor has spread to internal organs. 
  • How you are feeling and symptoms that you report 

Metastatic Melanoma is Sometimes Further Staged or Divided into: 

Metastases 1a 
Melanoma that has spread to other areas of the skin (not near the initial tumor) or to distant lymph nodes. For example, if your first melanoma appeared on the arm, lymph nodes in the armpit of that arm would be considered local disease; however, if lymph nodes in your groin or abdomen now show signs of melanoma, the cancer has spread beyond the initial affected area.

Metastases 1b
Melanoma has spread to the lungs

Metastases 1c

The tumor is now found in other organs besides the lungs or the person has high levels of LDH

Signs and Symptoms of Metastatic Melanoma

Your symptoms will depend on where the melanoma has spread. For example…

If it is on the skin (usually found based on look or feel), you may notice:

  • Lumps or bumps under the skin
  • New or changing black marks
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin

If it is inside the body (usually found on PET or CT scan), you may have a variety of symptoms. For example:

  • Pain if it is in the bone
  • Blood in the stool if it is in bowels or GI tract
  • Shortness of breath if it is in the lung
  • Seizures if it is in the brain

Take Note Tip: Not all melanomas come back on the skin. If you have new symptoms, you should tell your doctor right away.


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