Developing A Second Melanoma
If you have had melanoma in the past, you are at increased risk for developing a new primary melanoma. A significant number of patients with a past history of melanoma develop a second primary melanoma after a period of time.
- A study reviewing the data of 3310 patients with Stage I and Stage II melanoma revealed a 2.8% risk of developing a second melanoma after five years and a 3.6% risk after 10 years.1
Screening for new primary melanomas, as well as recurrences, through skin self-examination and regular skin examinations by your healthcare provider is of the utmost importance. Sun/UV protection and avoidance is also recommended.
Prognosis for a Second Melanoma
The appearance of a second primary melanoma does not necessarily carry a poor prognosis; that is determined by the stage of the second melanoma. Research shows the importance of close physician follow-up and patient education in the early detection of second melanomas.
In one study, the thickness of a second primary melanoma was compared with that of the initial primary tumor. In almost 50% of cases, the second melanoma was significantly thinner than the initial melanoma.2 This may be the result of an earlier diagnosis of the secondary primary melanomas, due to the fact that the patients and physicians were already performing close monitoring.
Second primary melanomas are treated just like original primary melanomas, with surgery in the form of a wide local excision and possible additional surgery and treatment, depending on the stage of the second melanoma.
1. DiFronzo LA, Wanek LA, Elashoff R, Morton DL. Increased Incidence of Second Primary Melanoma in Patients with a Previous Cutaneous Melanoma. Ann Surg Oncol. 1999;6:705-711.
2. DiFronzo LA, Wanek LA, Morton DL. Earlier Diagnosis of Second Primary Melanoma Confirms the Benefits of Patient Education and Routine Postoperative Follow-Up. Cancer. 2001;91:1520-1524.