Primary invasive signet-ring cell melanoma

J Cutan Pathol. 1999 Nov;26(10):533-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0560.1999.tb01802.x.


The histopathological variants of malignant melanoma include the common type (lentigo maligna, superficial spreading melanoma, nodular melanoma, acrolentiginous melanoma), spindle cell, desmoplastic, balloon cell, pleomorphic (fibrohistiocytic), myxoid, small cell melanoma and malignant blue nevus. Recently, signet-ring cell melanoma was introduced as an additional cytologic variant. We describe a 72-year-old patient with a primary signet-ring cell melanoma of the skin located on the upper arm. Histopathologic examination disclosed a melanocytic tumor extending from the epidermis to the deep reticular dermis. Numerous pleomorphic tumor cells showed large, intracellular vacuoles and oval to spindle-shaped nuclei at their periphery. Mitotic figures and multinucleated melanocytes were also observed. Some of the signet-ring cells exhibited cytoplasmatic periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positivity. Immunohistochemistry showed positive reaction of the tumor cells for S-100, HMB-45 protein and vimentin, confirming their melanocytic differentiation. Tumor cells were negative for cytokeratins, epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). The signet-ring cell melanoma disclosed an invasion to Clark Level IV and tumor thickness of 2.2 mm. Signet-ring cell melanoma is a rare morphologic variant of melanoma. Its recognition is important for differentiation from other tumors featuring signet ring cells.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Melanoma / chemistry
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanosis / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor