Hello there! This is Sudhir Polisetty, welcoming you back to my dermatology blog.
As a General and Surgical Dermatologist practicing at The Dermatology Center in New Albany, Indiana, I see a large number of patients suffering from melanoma, a type of skin cancer that derives from certain types of skin cells.
Doctors like myself diagnose nearly 160,000 cases of melanoma annually. As an expert in the field, I have found that early detection can drastically increase a persons chances of survival. After a melanoma diagnosis, several tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread. This process, called staging, determines the stage of the disease, which will help you and your doctor devise a proper treatment plan. Some tests used in the process include:
- Physical exam and history
- Lymph node mapping/sentinel lymph node biopsy
- CT scan
- PET scan
- MRI with gadolinium
- Blood chemistry studies
More information on these procedures can be found here. Melanoma stages range from stage 0 to stage IV and include the following:
- Stage 0- In this stage, also called melanoma in situ, abnormal melanocytes are found in the epidermis, which can become cancerous and spread to nearby tissue.
- Stage I- Stage one is broken down into two substages, IA and IB. In stage IA, the tumor has no ulceration and is less than 1mm thick. In IB, the tumor either has an ulceration, or is more than 1mm thick.
- Stage II- This stage is divided into stages IIA, IIB, and IIC. In IIA, the tumor is either between 1-2mm thick with an ulceration, or it is more than 2mm without an ulceration. In stage IIB, the tumor is between 2-4mm thick with an ulceration, or greater than 4mm thick without an ulceration. Lastly, in stage IIC, the tumor is more than 4mm thick and includes an ulceration.
- Stage III- In stage III, the tumor may have any thickness but has either spread to lymph nodes, has matted lymph nodes, is in a lymph vessel, or very small tumors can be found on or under the skin near the cancer site.
- Stage IV- If a patient is diagnosed with stage IV melanoma, this means the cancer has spread to places in the body far from where it first started, such as the lungs, brain, liver, bone, and soft tissue.
Thanks for reading!