Melanoma in the gastrointestinal tract

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Dec;94(12):3427-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.01604.x.


Objective: This article focuses on the clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic aspects of malignant melanoma metastases to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The subject of primary malignant melanoma arising from the GI tract is also discussed. Malignant melanoma is the most common tumor metastatic to the GI tract, and can present with fairly non-specific symptoms.

Methods: Up to 60% of patients with melanoma are found to have metastases at autopsy. Frequent GI sites of invasion include the small bowel (50%), colon (31.3%), and anorectum (25%), seen in our institution over the past 9 yr. Malignant melanoma is a frequent source of metastases to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Results: Herein we report the case of a melanoma masquerading as a rectal polyp. We have also discovered 16 cases of melanoma metastases to the GI tract, at our institution, over the past 9 yr. The most frequent sites included small bowel (50%), colon (31.3%), and anorectum (25%).

Conclusion: Despite innocuous gastrointestinal symptoms, metastatic melanoma should be a diagnostic consideration in any patient with a history of melanoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Digestive System / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology