Melanoma is a type of cancer that affects the melanocytes, a type of cell that produces melanin, and is found in the skin, mucous membranes and eyes. As it progresses, melanoma can rapidly grow and spread to other areas of the body, becoming what is called metastatic melanoma. This late-stage form of melanoma often spreads to the:
- Lymph nodes
How do I know if I have metastatic melanoma?
Most commonly affecting the skin, melanoma may first appear as an unusual mole that is asymmetrical, has a ragged border, has uneven coloring, is large in diameter or evolves over time. Other symptoms include a patch of scaly skin, a sore or itchy bump or a discoloration under the fingernails. Although the signs of early-stage melanoma are more clear-cut and visual, symptoms of metastatic melanoma will depend on where the cancer has spread. For example, melanoma that has spread to the lungs may result in a chronic cough, while cancer that has spread to the stomach may cause a loss of appetite or unexpected weight loss. Other generalized symptoms may include fatigue, headaches or swelling of the lymph nodes. It is important to note that there are many other, more common conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Therefore, it is important to consult with a physician who can perform the diagnostic tests necessary to confirm a metastatic melanoma diagnosis.
What should I do if I’ve been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma?
If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma or have a suspicious mole, you can find the comprehensive screening, diagnostic and treatment services you require at Moffitt Cancer Center. Our Cutaneous Oncology Program comprises experts from multiple specialties who collaborate in regular tumor board meetings to ensure our patients receive treatment plans that are tailored to their unique needs. Your individual treatment plan for metastatic melanoma will depend on many factors and may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy or limb infusion and perfusion.
To schedule an appointment at Moffitt to learn more about our metastatic melanoma treatment options, fill out a new patient registration form online or call 1-888-663-3488. We welcome patients with or without a referral.