ZocdocAnswersWhat are the chances of getting multiple melanomas?

Question

What are the chances of getting multiple melanomas?

I'm getting a cancerous melanoma removed next week, but I want to know more about what this means for my future. How high is the risk that (because I have had one melanoma already) I will develop another one? I have some prominent moles that I don't want to spend the rest of my life worrying about.

Answer

The answer to this question is complicated and depends a lot on how far along is the existing melanoma you have. Has it already spread, or is it still in the same spot? The best way to tell this is to have the suspicious lesion removed (which it sounds like you will) and have the margins of the removed specimen examined to make sure there are no cancer cells there. If the margins are "clean" (meaning there are no cancer cells seen at the edges), then your chances of recurrence of this melanoma is much lower (but not zero). The possibility of developing a second melanoma not related to the first depends on if you have any risk factors such as a family history. The fact that your have some other moles would make me nervous if I was your doctor. You will certainly have a followup appointment after the removal of your first lesion. Have the physician who performed this procedure do a complete skin exam and look at each of your moles. Since you already had one mole become suspicious, your doctor will likely have a lower threshold to remove the additional moles you have. This way you will not have to spend the rest of your life worrying about it. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.