Malignant melanoma metastatic to the gastrointestinal tract

Melanoma Res. 2002 Apr;12(2):169-73. doi: 10.1097/00008390-200204000-00010.


A retrospective study of 385 melanoma patients was performed, with the goal of evaluating the clinical characteristics, the role of imaging and the impact of treatment on patients with gastrointestinal (GI) metastases. Eighteen patients (4.7%) had GI tract metastases. In 50% the primary lesion was on the lower extremities (P< 0.01), while 61.1% had nodular melanomas (P < 0.01). Imaging and/or endoscopy were undertaken in 72.2% of the patients, yielding positive results in all. Eight patients underwent curative surgery, two received no treatment, while the remaining eight patients had chemotherapy or immunochemotherapy. Long-term palliation was offered to 87.5% of the surgical patients compared with 50% of the patients treated medically. Median survival in the patients treated with surgery was 47.5 months compared with 5.8 months in the medical group (P < 0.01). GI tract metastases were more common in patients with nodular melanoma of the lower extremities. To our knowledge, this is the first study correlating the primary lesion's characteristics with the development of GI tract metastases. Imaging is effective in the diagnosis of GI tract involvement. Melanoma patients with GI tract metastases can benefit from palliation by surgical resection. Survival is improved when such patients are treated with curative surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed