How Fast Does Melanoma Spread?

Skin cancer is the world’s most common cancer. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer and some can be very dangerous because they can spread to your organs and lymph nodes. Fortunately, when caught early through a self-exam or an exam by your doctor, melanoma has a very high cure rate.

How long it takes for melanoma to spread varies from person to person. But it’s aggressive cancer, so the sooner it’s discovered and treated, the better.

Types of Melanoma

There are four primary types of melanoma:

  • Superficial spreading melanoma. This form of melanoma is the most common. It grows along the surface of the skin initially, before penetrating more deeply into the skin.
  • Nodular melanoma. A raised bump or node on the skin is the most common feature of this melanoma. It’s an aggressive form that grows quickly.
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma. This type is most common in older people who have a large amount of sun damage on their skin. It typically appears on the scalp, face, or neck. It tends to take a long time to spread.
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma. This is a rare form of melanoma. It typically develops on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. It can also develop under the toenails or fingernails. It generally takes a long time to spread.

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Where Does Melanoma Spread To?

Unfortunately, melanoma can potentially to many places in the body. One of the reasons melanoma is so serious is that it can get into the lymph nodes and the bloodstream, and spread from there to the vital organs. Consequently, cancer that develops in a mole on your back, for example, can migrate to your brain, lungs, bones, liver, or other organs and areas.

As to the question of, “Where does melanoma spread to first?” that depends on a variety of factors including where it develops initially.

How Fast Does Melanoma Grow?

Some types of melanoma can grow very quickly, becoming life-threatening in as little as six weeks. If left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.

Nodular melanoma is a highly dangerous form of melanoma that looks different from common melanomas and can grow in just a few weeks. Raised and even in color, nodular melanoma are often red, pink, brown, or black. It can be life-threatening if not detected and removed quickly. See your doctor immediately if you notice any of these changes.

It’s also important to note that while sun exposure is a major risk factor in melanoma, the disease can develop in parts of the body that get little or no sun exposure.

Find a Dermatologist

Melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer. But the good news is that you can spot it with regular self-exams and then contact your doctor promptly. And if you’ve found it early, the chances of a positive outcome are high.

Dermatologists specialize in conditions affecting the skin and are experts in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. You can find a dermatologist at Baptist Health online and make an appointment if you have questions or concerns about melanoma or any skin condition.


Next Steps and Useful Resources:

How a Skin Cancer Screening is Done and What to Expect
5 Skin Cancer Mistakes
8 Tips to Help Reduce Skin Cancer for Golfers
Learn More About Melanoma and Treatment at Baptist Health

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