How Doctors Determine a Melanoma Survival Rate

Although a cancer diagnosis is always frightening news, it is far from a certain death sentence. In fact, many types of cancer can be cured quite effectively, especially when they are caught in their early stages. This is true for skin cancer melanoma in particular, since early detection of this type of cancer will raise the melanoma survival rate significantly with most cancer patients. Finding the disease early allows doctors to remove all or most of the cancer cells from the body, which increases the melanoma survival rate as well as the treatment options that are available. However, there is a more extensive formula that doctors use to determine melanoma survival rates as well as the treatment options that will be most effective for each individual patient.

The Three Factors

The first factor in determining a melanoma survival rate is the tumor itself, which is indicated by a T. This factor is measured both by the size of the tumor and how far it has spread within the skin. This category is evaluated by a number ranging from zero to four. The next factor is labeled as an N, and stands for the lymph node involvement. This category will be evaluated with a number ranging from zero to three, depending upon whether the cancer has spread to any of the lymph nodes and how big the cancer cells are. Certainly lymph node involvement can affect the melanoma survival rate as well.

The final factor that doctors consider in determining a melanoma survival rate is the M category, which stands for metastasizing. This long word simply means that the skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Doctors will look at which organs are involved here to help decide on the melanoma survival rate for a particular patient. Clearly, the more organs that are involved, the lower the survival rate will be. The survival rate can also be affected by which organs are involved or if the cancer has spread to more distant organs.

These three factors are each determined separately, and then they are combined to form a melanoma survival rate and treatment recommendation for each individual patient. The final evaluation is usually determined with two different types of evaluation; a clinical evaluation and a pathological staging. The clinical evaluation includes a physical exam and biopsy. The pathological staging consists of this information as well as data received from biopsies involving the lymph nodes and other organs. Your doctor will use this evaluation to work with you in finding the best treatment options.

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