You know that odd mole is probably melanoma, but you decide to just “wait and see what happens.”

If you do this for five years, how bad can the melanoma get?

Well, that’s a fair question, being that some melanomas spread superficially, that is, only on the surface of the skin, before they begin spreading in depth.

However, nodular melanoma grows frightfully fast – in depth.

“The behavior of melanoma can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as its stage at diagnosis, the depth of the tumor and the patient’s overall health status,” says Cameron K. Rokhsar, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist and owner of New York Cosmetic, Skin & Laser Surgery Center.

“It’s not possible to determine how bad a melanoma can be if it was left alone for five years without a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

“Melanoma can grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body if not treated promptly.”

Compared to many other well-publicized types of cancer, melanoma is relatively resistant to chemotherapy.

“Early detection is key to a successful outcome, with a five-year survival rate of 99% for localized melanoma,” continues Dr. Rokhsar.

A localized tumor has spread only superficially or laterally, and is still contained within the epidermis, which is the top-most layer of skin.

“However, if melanoma is left untreated and allowed to progress, the survival rate drops significantly.

“For example, once melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate drops to 63%.

“Leaving a melanoma untreated for five years can result in a poor prognosis and decrease the chances of successful treatment.”

Never Ignore a Melanoma

If you have a funny feeling about a mole, even if you’ve had it for as long as you could remember, you should request a biopsy.

A melanoma shouldn’t get this big before it’s finally examined. CDC, Carl Washington, MD, Emory Univ. School of Medicine, Mona Saraiya, MD, MPH

Trust your gut. Trust that inner voice. Simply have the spot removed. Don’t worry about a scar.

A biopsy scar is very small and hardly noticeable.

That’s a very small price to pay if the biopsy report comes back negative – because you’ll then have tremendous peace of mind.

At New York Cosmetic, Skin, and Laser Surgery Center, Cameron K. Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, and his team provide exceptional skin care solutions for many conditions and skin diseases including all types of skin cancer. Dr. Rokhsar is board certified in dermatology and dermatologic surgery.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


Top image: Shutterstock/goodluz