What are the chances of Developing a second melanoma?
If you have had melanoma in the past, you are at increased risk for developing a new primary melanoma. Many people don’t. But it’s important to know that you have a greater risk of getting another one. Anyone who has had melanoma has this risk. Melanoma can also come back after treatment.
Prognosis for a Second Melanoma
The appearance of a second primary melanoma does not necessarily carry a poor prognosis. Prognosis 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. 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.
Best Defense: Lifelong Skin Exams and UV Protection
While it can be upsetting to know that you have a higher risk of getting another melanoma, there is good news: Skin exams can help you find melanoma early when it can be successfully treated. Protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can reduce your risk of getting another skin cancer, including melanoma.
Two types of skin exams are essential — 1) monthly skin self-exams and 2) follow-up exams with your dermatologist. These exams can help find another melanoma early, when it can be treated successfully.
1. 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.