If melanoma skin cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the area of skin where the cancer started to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. If melanoma skin cancer spreads, it can spread to the following:

  • lymph nodes near where the cancer started (called regional lymph nodes)
  • lung
  • liver
  • other areas of skin away from where the cancer started
  • soft tissue under the skin (called subcutaneous tissue)
  • brain
  • gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as the small intestine
  • bone
  • adrenal gland

Expert review and references

  • American Joint Committee on Cancer. AJCC Cancer Staging Handbook. 7th ed. Chicago: Springer; 2010.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology . Melanoma . 2015 : https://www.cancer.net/.
  • Canadian Dermatology Association . Malignant Melanoma . https://dermatology.ca/.
  • Petrella T, Ernst S, Spatz A, Claveau J, Wong R, Smylie M . Canadian perspective on the clinical management of metastatic melanoma . New Evidence in Oncology . Toronto, ON : New Evidence ; 2012 .
  • Ribas A, Slingluff Cl Jr, Rosenberg SA . Cutaneous melanoma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 94:1346-1394.