Melanoma recurrence is less likely for patients who had their cancer detected and treated in its early stages. That’s because early-stage melanoma is usually confined to the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and is less likely to metastasize, or spread to other areas of the body. However, recurrence is always a possibility, and people who have had a melanoma are at a higher risk of developing a new melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancer in the future.
In the event of melanoma recurrence, several factors will be taken into account when considering treatment, such as the patient’s overall health, the location of the melanoma and treatments received in the past. Treatment for recurrent melanoma may include surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and/or other recommendations. When melanoma does return, it can do so months or even years after the original melanoma is removed. The recurrence will appear in one of the following forms:
- Local recurrence – The cancer returns at the same site (or near the site) of the primary, or original, melanoma.
- Second primary melanoma – A melanoma develops at a new site on the body at the same time the primary melanoma is present or after the primary tumor has been removed.
- Metastatic melanoma – The cancer recurs at a site such as the lungs, liver or brain that’s distant from the primary melanoma.
Because people who have had melanoma are at risk for recurrence, it’s important to undergo regular checkups. Examinations should be done every few months by a physician and may include blood tests or imaging tests to check for metastatic melanoma. In addition, it’s vital for people who have had melanoma to perform regular self-examinations as well. If any changes are noticed on the skin, a physician should be informed.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our Cutaneous Oncology Program offers screenings for melanoma recurrence as well as the latest in diagnostic testing and treatment options, including some of the world’s most promising clinical trials. No referral is necessary to visit our renowned oncologists. To make an appointment, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online.