My question more specifically is how fast does it take Nodular Melanoma to spread to the lymph nodes. Like does it take 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 1 month, etc? I was just wondering because I heard that nodular melanoma is the most aggressive kind of skin cancer.
Nodular Melanoma spreads very fast, and the prognosis is bad.
I can't tell you how fast it's going to spread, as this depends from individual from individual. The bad thing about nodular melanoma, that makes it differ from for example Superficial Spreading Malignant Melanoma, is that Nodular Melanoma spreads vertically, while SSMM spreads horizontally, superficially on the skin.
The reason Nodular Melanoma's way of spreading is dangerous is because it hits blood vessels fast, and therefore metastases to the body very fast, causing cancer in various organs.
Do you suspect nodular melanoma on yourself?
If so, you should see a dermatologist fast. Just to help you out on the way, let me give you a couple of criterias you can analyze it by.
Atypical Nevuses are determined with the ABCDE-rule.
A - Asymmetrical nevus
B - Uneven borders
C - More than one color (Nodular Melanoma can also be blue, and typically black/brown)
D - Diameter bigger than 6mm
E - Evolution, change in size, shape, color, elevation etc.etc.
If your whole body is covered in nevuses that are "atypical" by these criterias, you usually don't have to worry. Some people have nevuses that differ from the standard, and if this is so, you should use the criteria called "The Ugly Duck"
Simply look for nevuses that differ from your other nevuses, and then determine if it's atypical or not.
BUT NOTICE: This is not a criteria that DIAGNOSES cancer, this is simply used to spot atypical nevuses, and microscopical examination is needed for diagnosis of cancer.
As Larskri has stated, the problem with nodular melanoma is that it grows vertically, rather than horizontally, which means it grows down into the skin.
However, the speed with which melanoma might spread to the lymph nodes cannot be determined by stating that it will take 1 month or 2 years or 353.6 days. There are far too many variables to determine that. Melanoma grows fast, very fast. But that is in comparison to Basal or Squamous Cell Carcinomas, which are extremely slow growing cancers.
Example: I had what I thought was a freckle/mole on my knee that was developing in Oct 2006. By early Dec 2006, it had developed into what I thought was a very unique looking mole (had none of the A,B,C,D's of melanoma), and decided to have my Dr look at during my physical in Jan 2007. She agreed it looked "weird" and decided to remove it in Feb 2007. It came back as malignant melanoma. I had a wide excision in Mar 2007. It was nodular melanoma (it hadn't increased in outward appearance since Dec 2006), and its depth was at .7mm. Had it grown just .3mm more, I would have had to have had a sentinental node biopsy, as the lymph nodes might have been impacted.
Mine took a total of 4 months. Within 6 months, my lymph nodes may have been affected. Or...they may not. Hard to tell. And am I typical? Who knows?
The morale of this story? If you think you have something on your skin that is questionable AT ALL, contact a physician. DO NOT try to diagnose it yourself. DO NOT ask others opinion. I knew in my gut something was "off." I did not fit all the descriptions of melanoma. If some one looked at my melanoma, they would have told me not to worry. Fact is, YOU know YOUR body, and if you suspect there is something wrong, get it check out by a professional.
It doesn't matter how fast melanomas may or may not spread. One person's example may not be yours.