How long people live after a diagnosis of thin melanoma varies.
“Most patients do well–at five years, 95% are doing fine,” Dr. Christopher J. Miller said at a summer symposium of the Alabama Dermatology Society.
This figure comes from an Archives of Dermatology study where researchers found 95.3% of patients survived at least 5 years if they had thin (< 1 mm) melanoma, stage II/III disease, with no ulceration.
“About 10% are not doing as well,” Dr. Miller said, referring to a different group with thin melanoma (<1 mm, stage IV/V with ulceration). In this group, study researchers found a 90.9% five-year survival.
So how do you estimate prognosis for your individual patient? Dr. Miller recommended a website that has a fast and easy-to-use (I tried it!) instrument to estimate survival based on a few characteristics.
“This is a great tool … and a useful thing to have for your patients,” said Dr. Miller, Director of Dermatologic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Using a number of factors to calculate survival is more accurate than relying on just one measure or using survival curves, he said.
I tried the site for a hypothetical patient with localized melanoma. I found that a 45-year-old with a 1 mm ulcerated lesion located on axial site would have an estimated:
98.8% one-year survival rate
96.8% at two years
86.5% at five years
73% at ten years.
The online calculator was developed using the melanoma database of the American Joint Commitee on Cancer.
–Damian McNamara (on Twitter @MedReporter)