In advanced melanoma, the cancer cells have spread from the original melanoma to other parts of the body through the blood stream or the lymphatic system.
The places melanoma is most likely to spread to are:
- Lymph nodes
- Parts of the skin located at a distance from the original melanoma
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of advanced melanoma can appear years after the original diagnosis of melanoma. These depend on the part of the body the melanoma has spread to:
- Lymph nodes:
If the cancer spreads into the lymph nodes at a distance from the original site of the melanoma, these lymph nodes are likely to harden and become inflamed. On rare occasions, these may press up against nearby nerves and tissue, causing pain.
- The skin:
If secondary tumors show up on the skin, these often appear as firm or hard lumps (nodules).
- The lungs:
If the cancer spreads into the lungs, it can cause difficulty breathing breathing, persistent cough, chest pain, or fluid build-up around the lungs (pleural effusion).
- The liver:
The cancer cells that spread into the liver can cause swelling and discomfort in the area of the liver (right side of the abdomen, below the lower ribs). This may provoke nausea, loss of appetite, build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
- The bones:
If the cancer spreads into the bones it can cause bone pain and discomfort. On rare occasion, the first symptom to appear may be a broken bone following a minor lesion.
- The brain:
When the cancer spreads into the brain it can cause headaches and nausea; these are often worse first thing in the morning. The cancer can affect an area of the brain that controls part of the body and may cause weakness in an arm, numbness, tingling, or pins and needles. On occasion, the person may experience seizures or changes in their personality.
- General symptoms:
Loss of appetite
Feeling very tired (fatigue)