Stage 4 Melanoma
Stage IV melanoma has metastasized (spread) to other places throughout the body, such as the brain, lungs, liver, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Melanoma may also have spread to distant points in the skin.
Stage IV melanoma is considered distant metastatic melanoma.
About Staging: Melanoma staging is based on the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system. The system assigns a stage based on tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) scores as well as additional prognostic factors. The goal is that melanomas of the same stage will have similar characteristics, treatment options, and outcomes. Learn more about melanoma staging here.
Treatment: Stage IV melanoma treatment options have expanded greatly in the last 10 years and frequently combine surgery with immunotherapy or targeted therapy. Learn more about melanoma treatments here.
Clinical Trials: Clinical trials offer patients access to treatment approaches that may prove more beneficial than those approved by the FDA currently. In addition, clinical trials drive our understanding of melanoma forward, improving future treatment options for all patients. Given the very rapid development of new agents and combinations, patients and their physicians are encouraged highly to consider treatment in a clinical trial for initial treatment and at the time of disease progression. Learn more about clinical trials here.
Prognosis: Stage IV melanoma is very difficult to cure as it has already spread to other parts of the body. However, a small number of people respond well to treatment, achieve No Evidence of Disease (NED), and survive for many years following diagnosis. Researchers are also working every day to improve the durability of response and increase the number of people who benefit from treatment. The 5-year survival rate as of 2018 for distant metastatic (Stage IV) melanoma is 22.5%. Click here to learn more about melanoma survival rates.
Follow-Up Care: After achieving No Evidence of Disease (NED) following treatment for Stage IV melanoma, you should conduct monthly self exams of your skin and lymph nodes and have an annual, full-body skin exam performed by a trained dermatologist for the rest of your life. You should also undergo a physical exam by your doctor every 3 to 6 months for the first 2 years, then 3 to 12 months for the next 3 years, and then annually as needed. Imaging tests may be ordered every 3 to 12 months or as needed to monitor for recurrence.
Just Diagnosed? If you've been recently diagnosed with melanoma, you are not alone. The Melanoma > Exchange is a free online melanoma treatment and research focused discussion group and support community. Through the Melanoma > Exchange, anyone touched by Melanoma can find support, ask questions, and build community among people who share a similar experience. Join the Community.