As aging adults enter their senior years, taking every precaution to protect a body growing gradually more frail becomes an essential course of action for prolonging a senior’s life and health. Skin often becomes even more delicate during senior years, and applying sunblock is a crucial safeguard toward the various types of skin cancer that put seniors at risk.
The most aggressive kind of skin cancer is melanoma, and it is also the sixth most common kind of cancer overall. The majority of those diagnosed with melanoma cancer are seniors over the age of sixty, putting adults in their golden years at higher risk for the disease. When melanoma has spread to other areas of the body, it is called metastatic (advanced) melanoma.
Once Melanoma has spread from the original tumor site to other serious places in the body (lymph nodes, lungs, liver, brain, etc.), it is identified as being Stage IV Melanoma.
How Many Are Affected by Metastatic Melanoma?
The American Caner Society has estimated that there are over 75,000 cases of melanoma in the U.S. alone, resulting in under 10,000 deaths per year. Approximately 12% of metastatic melanoma cases end fatally each year.
Senior Metastatic Melanoma Risks
Lack of precaution for ultra violet rays is the leading danger for metastatic melanoma. When sunblock or appropriate clothing covering for hot weather days are neglected, it increases risk of skin cancer.
The risk of melanoma is greatest for seniors who have weaker immune systems, fair skin complexions, spend much time in the sun, or have a family history of melanoma.
Senior Metastatic Melanoma Prognosis
For Metastatic Melanoma in seniors, the typical 5-year survival rate is about 15-20%, and the ten year survival rate is 10-15%.
The severity of stage IV melanoma will vary based on where exactly the cancer has spread to in a senior’s body. The worst place melanoma can spread is the inner organs, but metastatic melanoma is somewhat less severe when it spreads instead to other parts of the skin or distant lymph nodes.
Other factors affect the survival rate as well. Older age often leads to higher mortality likelihood with metastatic melanoma, with age 70 and above being the most impacted age range. Also, Caucasian men are prone to be at the highest risk of developing melanoma.
Is Metastatic Melanoma Treatable for Seniors?
Catching the disease early on provides the best chance of effective treatment. Irregular moles and very bad sunburns may be indicators of melanoma in seniors. Once melanoma has reached stage IV, surgery efforts to remove melanoma are rarely successful. There are drug treatment and biologic therapies available to treat and slow the progression of the disease and better the quality of life for affected seniors with metastatic melanoma.