What is Metastatic Melanoma?

Skin cancer can develop as many variations and, like other cancers, can progress into different stages. 

What is Metastatic Melanoma?

Metastatic melanoma is a form of skin cancer that occurs when the cancerous cells from the original tumor loosen and begin to travel through the lymph or blood circulation and start a new (metastatic) tumor elsewhere in the body. Once it spreads or metastasizes, the disease is known as metastatic melanoma. This type of melanoma may typically occur during stage 3 or stage 4. Common melanoma metastasis sites include the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, bones, and brain. Even though the metastatic tumor site is new and does not occur on the skin, it is still considered melanoma. 

You cannot get metastatic melanoma without having melanoma first. Risk factors for melanomas include:

  • Light skin, light-colored hair, or light-colored eyes
  • Skin prone to burning easily
  • Multiple blistering sunburns as a child
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Frequent exposure to sun or ultraviolet (UV) radiation (tanning beds, for example)
  • Exposure to environmental factors

Close to 100,000 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2023. While metastatic melanoma is rare, the best form is skin cancer prevention is early detection from your local board-certified dermatologist. Find a location near you and schedule your skin cancer exam today.