Melanoma Treatment: Stages I & II

Stages of Melanoma

After looking at the pathology report,(see page on Pathology under Melanoma Info tab) physicians assign a “provisional stage” to melanomas as a means to classify their patients according to their chances of being cured, and to guide their choices of further testing and treatment. In general, doctors integrate information on the primary tumor with data on the presence and location of metastases to arrive at the final stage.

Stages I and II:

The tumor is apparently confined to the site where it started up to 1.5 millimeters thick; there is no evidence of nearby skin or lymph node involvement or of distant metastasis. The five-year survival rate depends on the melanoma’s thickness (and other features) and varies from about 95 percent for people who have stage IA lesions (that are a millimeter or less in thickness.)  Breslow thickness and the mitotic figure should be weighed together to indicate if further diagnostic information is needed. The Mitotic count or mitosis is the measure of how many melanoma cells are dividing below the epidermis. The higher the mitotic count, the more likely the tumor is to have spread.  

A Sentinel Node Biopsy may be recommended if the combination of these two factors add to the risk of spread. (Please see the section on Sentinel Node Biopsy under Melanoma Info tab)


Source: Melanoma: Not Just Skin Cancer, by Catherine M. Poole; Contributing editors: Keith Flaherty, MD, DuPont Guerry, MD and Jedd Wolchok, MD, 2015.

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UPDATED: September 1, 2018