Stages of melanoma
The stages of melanoma referred to in this guideline were based on the American Joint Committee on Cancer's (AJCC) Melanoma of the skin staging (7th edition).
Staging of primary melanoma can be carried out in 2 steps. The initial staging is based on the histopathological features reported by the pathologist looking at the microscopic sections of the tumour. The melanoma is staged as 0–IIC, based on factors such as the thickness of the tumour and the presence or absence of ulceration. In many hospitals in the UK, this first step is followed by the option of a second, which is a sampling of the lymph nodes most likely to contain secondary melanoma cells (sentinel lymph node biopsy). If a sentinel lymph node biopsy is performed and microscopic disease is detected, the melanoma becomes stage III. If no microscopic disease is detected then the initial stage is used.