Melanoma Skin Cancer Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for melanoma skin cancer

Some people with melanoma may want to know the survival rates for people in their situation. Others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you do not you want to read the survival statistics below, skip to the next section.

These survival rates are based on patients who were part of the 2008 AJCC Melanoma Staging Database. These are observed survival rates. This means they include some people with melanoma who may have later died from other causes, such as heart disease. So the percentage of people surviving the melanoma itself may be higher.

The 5-year and 10-year survival rates refer to the portion of patients who live at least this long after their cancer is found. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 or 10 years (and many are cured).

    Stage

    5-year survival

    10-year survival

    IA

    97%

    95%

    IB

    92%

    86%

    IIA

    81%

    67%

    IIB

    70%

    57%

    IIC

    53%

    40%

    IIIA

    78%

    68%

    IIIB

    59%

    43%

    IIIC

    40%

    24%

    IV

    15% to 20%

    10% to15%

While numbers provide an overall picture, keep in mind that every person’s situation is unique and that statistics can’t predict exactly what will happen in your case. Many factors other than the stage can also affect a person’s outlook, such as the gene changes in the cancer cells and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure, or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.

Other factors that affect survival

Other factors aside from stage may also affect survival. For instance, stage for stage, older people often have shorter survival times. The biggest drop begins at age 70. Melanoma is not common among African Americans, but when it does occur, survival times tend to be shorter than when it occurs in whites. Some studies have shown that melanoma tends to be more serious if it occurs on the sole of a foot or palm of the hand, or if it is in a nail bed. People with weakened immune systems, such as people who have had organ transplants or who are infected with HIV also are at greater risk of dying of their melanoma.


Last Medical Review: 02/19/2014
Last Revised: 02/19/2014