One of the most important things after learning you have melanoma is determining its stage (extent that melanoma has spread in your body). Knowing the stage of melanoma helps to determine your prognosis and identify the best treatment plan for you.
Melanoma staging is based on the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system that uses three key pieces of information for assigning Tumor-Node-Metastasis (TNM) classifications. In 2016, the AJCC expanded its staging guidelines to incorporate additional evidence-based prognostic factors. The goal is to create a uniform staging system with the assumption that melanomas of the same stage will have similar characteristics, treatment options, and outcomes. Learn more about Melanoma Staging here.
It is important to note that while staging is used to help understand how far the melanoma has advanced through the body, other measures known as the Breslow Depth and the Clark Level relate to the specific melanoma biopsied, and the depth or thickness of that melanoma. While related, melanoma stage and Breslow Depth or Clark Level measure different things they are not interchangeable. Learn more about the Breslow Depth and the Clark Level here.
Just Diagnosed? If you've been recently diagnosed with melanoma, you are not alone. The Melanoma > Exchange is a free online melanoma treatment and research focused discussion group and support community. Through the Melanoma > Exchange, anyone touched by Melanoma can find support, ask questions, and build community among people who share a similar experience. Join the Community.