Skin cancer, just like any cancer, undergoes different Skin Cancer Stages, which are defined by specific skin cancer symptoms and signs. Staging is important because the treatment is often decided according to what skin cancer stage it has progressed to. The most common staging used by medical professionals is called the TNM staging. T indicates the size of the tumor. N suggests whether the cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes, and M shows whether cancer cells have spread to nearby body organs or not. The non-melanoma types of cancers are often not staged since metastasis of cancer cells is rare. However, melanoma, being the most dangerous type of SKIN CANCER, uses the number system of staging.
Skin Cancer Stages: Melanoma Type
Stage 0 – This stage of melanoma cancer indicates that there are abnormal melanocytes present and are confined in the outer layer of the skin only. This stage is also called, melanoma-in-situ.
Stage I – The melanoma at this stage indicates that cancerous cells are present. Skin cancer at this stage is less than 1 ½ mm or about 1/16 inch thick. There is no spread to the nearby lymph nodes or organs. This stage of melanoma is localized.
Stage II – melanoma at this stage is more than 1 ½ mm, or is between 2mm and 4mm in thickness. There is no evidence of metastasis, thus this stage of melanoma is still confined to the skin.
Stage III – Stage III melanoma is not just confined to the skin but has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV – this stage of melanoma is often incurable. Cancer has spread beyond the regional lymph nodes and has metastasized to other body organs such as the lungs, liver and brain.