Advanced melanoma

 

What is advanced melanoma?

Advanced melanoma is diagnosed when your melanoma has spread from where it first started to another part (or parts) of your body. Advanced Melanoma occurs in stages three and four.

Melanoma can spread to almost any part of your body, but it is most likely to spread to one or more of the following places:
• skin (away from your original melanoma)
• lymph nodes
• lungs
• liver
• bones
• brain

"I was very scared when I learned I had
melanoma. But I knew I was in good hands.
The New Zealand specialists know about
melanoma, how to test for it, what to look
for— they were very thorough, understanding
and kind.”
Karen

 

How advanced melanoma is diagnosed

The first sign of melanoma is usually the appearance of a new spot or a change in an existing freckle or mole. The change may be in size, shape and/or colour and is normally noticed over several weeks or months rather than days.

If you have a spot or mole that you are worried about, or are concerned that your melanoma has returned, the first person you will see is your family/whānau doctor (GP). They will look at any skin changes that you are concerned about, using a dermascope/dermatascope. They may also feel the lymph nodes in the area nearest your spot or mole.

IS Dermascope resized2

If your doctor suspects that you have advanced melanoma, even if you have never been diagnosed with melanoma before, you will be referred to a hospital doctor who may recommend further tests.

Depending on your symptoms, these further tests may include:

• biopsy

• fine needle aspiration

• sentinel node biopsy

• blood tests

• other tests such as a CT scan or PET scan

 After any test it is a good idea to ask where and when you will get your results. This can vary according to the hospital or doctor you see, so it is important that you have clear expectations and an understanding of the likely timeframes.

If you have not been given this information, call your GP or the treatment team to make sure an appointment has been arranged. This waiting period can be an anxious time, so it may help to talk things over with a family/whānau member or close friend.