New research shows that melanoma can recur decades after initial treatment in roughly 9 percent of patients.
The findings show that people who have had melanoma require lifelong follow-up, the study authors said.
The investigators looked at over 4,700 melanoma patients and found that recurrence occurred in 408 patients who had been disease-free for 10 or more years. The recurrence rates were nearly 7 percent after 15 years and 11 percent after 25 years, according to the study in the July issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
But the researchers also found that patients whose melanoma recurred 10 or more years later were less likely to die than those whose melanoma recurred within three years of treatment. Those with late recurrence were about 40 percent less likely to die of melanoma than those with early recurrence, and those with late recurrence also had a better overall survival rate.