Staging-TNM Classification

What is melanoma staging?

Melanoma staging is a classification of the tumor’s size, pathology and extent of spread in the body. It is based on the physician’s physical exam, radiologic tests, blood tests, laboratory test results of the removed tumor and lymph nodes. Staging is necessary for your medical team to determine the appropriate treatment for your level of melanoma.

How is the staging determined?

Melanoma staging is based on primary tumor thickness; spread to lymph nodes; presence of ulceration; metastasis (movement of cancer cells to somewhere else in the system = body); and elevated levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH, a blood chemical that is released when cells are damaged). Stages are numerically listed as Stage 0-IV with Stage 0 having the best prognosis and Stage IV having the greatest severity. These stages are based on the TNM classification system.

What does TNM mean?