Stage 4 Melanoma Survival Statistics for the U.S.

What Are Stage 4 Melanoma Survival Rates Like in the United States?

Doctor checking melanoma. Credit: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

A lot of factors influence the survival rate of people who have stage 4 melanoma. The different factors include the size of the tumor, how deep it has invaded the tissues, the thickness of the tumor, and what stage the tumor was at the time of diagnosis.

Stage 4 Melanoma Survival Rates

Because these are rare tumors, it is difficult to generalize from statistics. The studies often referred to are from before the year 2000, and cover cases going back many years before that.

Cancer treatment has evolved since those years, so the statistics would not reflect any newer therapies or treatment regimens. The number of cases tracked is also relatively small compared with more common cancers. Keep all of this in mind when you read statistics for rare cancers.

When looking at these older statistics, the average length of survival for people with stage 4 colorectal melanoma was fewer than 13 months, just over one year. Statistically, fewer than 14 percent of people with stage 4 melanoma were still alive five years after their diagnosis. Here are the stats for all sites:

Five-Year Survival Statistics for Stage 4 Melanoma

SiteAverage 5-Year Survival Rate
Skin, lymph nodes, colon, or rectum14%
Liver, brain, or bone3%

Average Survival Statistics for Stage 4 Melanoma

SiteAverage Number of Months
Skin, lymph nodes, colon, or rectum13 months
Lungs8 months
Liver, brain, or bone4 months


These stage 4 melanoma survival statistics were derived from a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Researchers analyzed data from approximately 15,000 patients treated for stage 4 melanoma at the John Wayne Cancer Institute between 1971 and 1993.

Positive Influences on Stage 4 Melanoma Survival Rate

Certain things can help increase patients' survival rates.

A tumor diameter less than two centimeters, a tumor thickness less than two millimeters, and an early tumor stage at diagnosis are generally good news.

What These Survival Rates Mean for the Colorectal Cancer Patient

If you're reading this article thinking "Man, I have no chance," or that your friend, husband, partner, child, or parent has no chance, please don't, because that isn't true. It's important to remember that statistics are simply numbers - generalizations. Yes, they come from somewhere, but they can't predict your future or the future of any one person. Many people wouldn't be living the lives they're living had they not beaten the odds.

These statistics were developed from data available decades ago. Progress can be made in surgery and medical treatment that aren't reflected in these older statistics.

So is it good to have a general idea what you're up against? Yes, I think so. But are you bound by these numbers? Absolutely not. Please keep that in mind whenever you look at any survival rates, not just these.

It may help to join a local support group to share with others who are going through what you are going through. The American Cancer Society's Cancer Survivors Network also has online discussion boards and a chat room.

They also have a phone line to speak with you and answer questions, which they can also do by email.

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Barth, A. and Wanek, L.A. "Prognostic Factors in 1,521 Melanoma Patients with Distant Metastases." Journal of the American College of Surgeons 181.3 (Sep. 1995): 193-201. PubMed. 21 Aug. 2006 [].

Blecker, D. and Abraham, S. "Melanoma in the Gastrointestinal Tract." The American Journal of Gastroenterology 94.12 (Dec. 1999) 3427-3433. PubMed. 21 Aug. 2006 [].