Browser does not support script.
Skip to main content
Find out how we produce our information|
The symptoms of advanced or secondary melanoma vary from person to person, depending on which part(s) of the body the melanoma has spread to.
For some people, the symptoms of advanced melanoma develop years after the original melanoma was diagnosed and removed. For others, a change to an existing mole or freckle or a change in normal-looking skin is the first sign. Tests then show that the melanoma has spread to another part of the body (secondary cancer), although there may not be obvious symptoms at this stage.
For a small number of people, tests may show that they have a secondary melanoma even if they have had no signs of a previous melanoma or an abnormal-looking mole.
If secondary tumours occur in the skin, they often appear as hardened lumps (nodules).
If the cancer spreads to lymph nodes| distant from the original melanoma, they may feel hard and swollen. Sometimes affected lymph nodes press on tissues or nerves nearby, and this may cause pain.
If melanoma spreads to the lungs| it may cause breathlessness, persistent coughing, discomfort in the chest or a collection of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion).
Cancer cells that have spread to the liver| can cause swelling and discomfort in the liver area (the right hand side of the tummy, under the lower ribs). This can also cause sickness, loss of appetite, a build-up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
Cancers that spread to the bones| often cause pain or discomfort in the bones. Rarely, the first symptom may be a broken bone (fracture) after a minor injury. This happens because the bone is weaker due to the cancer.
Secondary cancer in the brain may cause headaches and sickness, which can often be worst first thing in the morning. The cancer may affect an area of the brain that controls a certain part of the body. This sometimes causes symptoms such as weakness in a limb, numbness, tingling or pins and needles. Occasionally, people have seizures (fits) or a change in their personality. We have information about secondary cancer in the brain|.
The following general symptoms of advanced melanoma are also common:
All the symptoms mentioned here can also be caused by other, less serious conditions. But if you do have any of these symptoms it’s important to let your doctor know.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
If you have any questions about Macmillan we would love to hear from you| .
You can also follow us| on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
what are these?|