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Metastatic Melanoma - Topic Overview

When melanoma spreads (metastasizes), it usually spreads first into nearby lymph nodes. It can also spread through the bloodstream. Distant metastases of melanoma typically are found in the skin, liver, lungs, bone, and brain.

If the melanoma is on a leg or arm, metastases usually are first found higher up on that leg or arm. Unusual sites for metastases include the eye.

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Understanding Skin Cancer -- the Basics

Skin cancers involve abnormal cell changes in the outer layer of skin. It is by far the most common cancer in the world, accounting for 75% of all cancer diagnoses. Most cases are cured, but the disease is a major health concern because it affects so many people. The incidence of skin cancer is rising, even though most cases could be prevented by limiting the skin's exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Skin cancer is about three times more common in men than in women, and the risk...

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You may notice changes in a new or existing mole, such as:

  • An open sore (ulceration) or infection.
  • Bleeding for no reason.
  • Itching, tenderness, or pain.
  • A change in color.
  • A change in the thickness, such as going from flat to raised or raised to flat.

But symptoms may be vague and include:

When melanoma has spread only to nearby tissues or lymph nodes, treatments such as immunotherapy can sometimes work. But after melanoma has spread to other places in the body, cure is very rare. In these cases, treatment to manage symptoms may help a person live longer.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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