Melanoma

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Winning the Battle Against Melanoma

Skin cancers are the most common cancers. Fortunately, only 5 percent of skin cancers are melanomas. However, because melanoma is more aggressive and deadly than other varieties of skin cancer, if it's not diagnosed and treated early, it can spread rapidly to other organs.

Statistics Are Abstract; Lives Aren’t

Kathy Sparks, Melanoma Survivor Kathy Sparks was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2005. Four years later her disease had progressed to stage IV. But thanks to a clinical trial in 2009, Kathy’s melanoma is now in partial remission. Read more about Kathy.

If you have melanoma, where you choose to go for initial treatment has a significant impact on the likelihood of survival. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) skin cancer and melanoma specialists are among the best in the world, with access to the latest therapies and innovative treatments, including vaccine clinical trials, gene therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy. As you can see below, patients treated by SCCA have high five-year survival rates compared to patients treated at other hospitals and treatment centers. 

Melanoma Survival Rates

Below are the five-year survival rates for melanoma patients treated by SCCA compared to patients who were treated for melanoma elsewhere. This information was collected by the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) for patients who were diagnosed and treated between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years. We're only showing survival rates for patients diagnosed with stage 0, stage I, stage II, and stage III melanoma. There were not enough patients who were first diagnosed and treated at SCCA with stage IV melanoma to provide meaningful results.

Stage 0 Melanoma

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 98 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 91 percent.

Stage I Melanoma

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 96 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their combined five-year survival rate was 91 percent.

Stage II Melanoma

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 77 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rates was 66 percent.

Stage III Melanoma

  • SCCA patients are represented by the green line. Their five-year survival rate was 60 percent from the time they were first diagnosed by SCCA. Note that only patients who received all of their care from SCCA are included.
  • Patients from the other types of treatment centers—Community Cancer Centers, Comprehensive Community Cancer Centers, and Academic/Research Hospitals—are represented by the yellow line. Their five-year survival rate was 54 percent.
  • Note: While the SCCA survival rates appear to be better for stage III melanoma, the data could not be statistically validated.

The charts above include patients who were diagnosed between 2003 and 2006 and then followed for five years. The five-year observed survival rates are estimated using the actuarial method with one-month intervals. The endpoint is death from any cause (not cancer specific death); patients may have died from causes unrelated to their cancer. Calculations were performed using the NCDB Survival Reports software tool. Survival rates are not displayed when fewer than 30 cases are available, as survival rates calculated from small numbers of cases can yield misleading results and may have very wide confidence intervals.

The outcomes presented in the figures are not risk-adjusted. That is, the NCDB did not account for demographic differences (e.g., age at diagnosis, gender, socioeconomic status, and insurance status), prognostic factors, and comorbidities for SCCA and other hospitals. Also, the NCDB did not account for subjective differences in staging practices among hospitals. For example, it is possible that a cancer considered stage I at one hospital might be considered stage II at another hospital due to practice pattern variations. The outcomes comparisons presented here might have differed if the NCDB had accounted for such demographic and staging differences in our analyses.

The NCDB tracks the outcomes of 70 percent of all newly diagnosed cancer in the United States from more than 1,500 commission-accredited cancer programs. It has been collecting data from hospital cancer registries since 1989 and now has almost 30 million records.

Frequently Asked Questions

Data Collection Methodology