What does it mean if the melanoma is ulcerated?

Expert Answers

PeterBeitschMD (Physician - Surgery - Surgical Oncology (Verified) ) - 04 / 26 / 2012

Some melanomas bleed and this may trigger the patient to seek medical care. Often in this scenario, the melanoma will have grown all the way through the epidermis - which is called ulceration. Sometimes, non-bleeding melanomas will also have grown through the epidermis and be 'ulcerated'. Ulcerated melanomas occur ~20% of the time and determining the presence of ulceration is important. Patients with an ulcerated melanomas have a worse prognosis, greater chance of a positive sentinel lymph nodes, and higher rate of systemic spread compared to patients whose melanomas do not have ulceration. Ulceration will increase the stage of the patient by one half of a stage (for example an ulcerated melanoma will be a Stage 2B compared to a Stage 2A for an identical thickness melanoma without ulceration).
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