Melanoma is dangerous on it’s own when you just have one tumor, and approximately 80% of melanoma patients develop only one single, primary melanoma. However, it is known that once you have just one, you can certainly develop another.. About 17% to 20% of melanoma patients develop more than one melanoma and, in many cases, multiple melanomas.
A new study shows that if you develop multiple primary melanomas (in situ), you would be at an increased risk for melanoma death. This means that even if you have multiple melanomas, you would be at lower risk compared to if you had several primary melanomas.
For me and my practice, this is something that we are keenly aware of. When we have patients with melanoma, we will check them every three months for the first two years, six months for the following two to five years, and annually thereafter. Unfortunately, once you have more than one primary melanoma, even though it may not be fatal, you will have to be in constant contact with your dermatologist for the rest of your life. That’s why I’m very particular about my patients, and we watch them closely to ensure we remove all melanomas.
In summary, the main message from the study and my personal practice is clear – monitoring multiple melanomas is absolutely necessary. With closer surveillance, early detection can save so many lives… That’s why it’s up to you to make sure you check your skin and touch base with your dermatologist often. It only takes one more than one melanoma to induce lifelong surveillance – so start checking from now.