Malignant melanoma of the conjunctiva

Cancer Control. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):310-6. doi: 10.1177/107327480401100505.


Background: Conjunctival melanoma is a relatively rare ocular malignancy with substantial associated morbidity and mortality.

Methods: More than 100 articles on conjunctival melanoma were reviewed, including most of the relevant recent publications cited in a current MEDLINE search. The author's experience with conjunctival melanomas is also incorporated in this review.

Results: Recognition of their precursor lesions at an early stage is important. Staging of the disease by sentinel lymph node biopsy is now advocated in some centers. Surgical excision with adjuvant cryotherapy and alcohol corneal epithelialectomy is usually effective in eradicating most of these lesions. Extensive cases of flat primary acquired melanosis with atypia may be managed with mitomycin C. Multifocal and advanced melanoma, especially in cases showing intraocular or orbital invasion, may require exenteration and/or radiotherapy to adequately extirpate the neoplasm locally. However, systemic metastases already may have occurred in these patients with advanced disease.

Conclusions: Conjunctival melanoma is a condition of concern because of its rarity and lethal potential. Advances in the understanding and management of this neoplasm have markedly reduced the mortality and possibly the morbidity associated with this malignancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy / methods
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cryotherapy / methods
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Melanosis / diagnosis
  • Nevus / diagnosis
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome