Long-term follow-up of patients with conjunctival melanoma

Am J Clin Oncol. 2002 Jun;25(3):248-55. doi: 10.1097/00000421-200206000-00009.


Data from long-term follow-up examinations of patients with conjunctival melanoma are limited. A retrospective study of survival rates and local tumor relapse rates was performed on 85 patients initially treated between 1958 and 1993. Therapeutic procedures were local excision, local excision followed by brachytherapy, local excision combined with cryotherapy, and local excision followed by either irradiation or cryotherapy and adjuvant mitomycin C (MMC) application. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate cumulative survival rates and event rate curves. Clinical parameters of the patients and the tumors were obtained and analyzed for their relation to tumor recurrence and death from metastatic melanoma using the multivariate Cox hazards modeling. The median follow-up duration among the surviving patients was 13.1 years (mean 13.8 years). The cumulative 10-year survival rate of the 85 patients based on all causes of death was 62.5%, and that based on tumor-related death was 77.7%. Patient age greater than 55 years, higher TNM category, and unfavorable tumor location (palpebral conjunctiva, fornix, caruncle, corneal stroma, eyelid) were identified as prognostic factors for death from metastatic melanoma. Tumors with unfavorable location, higher TNM grade, and excision alone as initial therapy showed a higher cumulative probability of local relapse than favorably located (bulbar and limbal conjunctiva) tumors, lower TNM grade, and excision plus adjuvant therapy. The behavior of conjunctival melanomas remains unpredictable in individual cases. To minimize local recurrence rate surgical excision should be combined with an adjunctive procedure such as irradiation, cryotherapy, or local chemotherapy with MMC. Randomized prospective multicentric studies are required.

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Melanoma* / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Survival Analysis