Primary mucosal melanoma

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 May;56(5):828-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2006.06.017. Epub 2007 Mar 8.


Primary mucosal melanomas are rare, biologically aggressive neoplasms. The distribution of head and neck, female genital tract, anal/rectal, and urinary tract sites is 55.4%, 18.0%, 23.8%, and 2.8%, respectively. The median age at presentation is the seventh decade, and women are given the diagnosis more frequently than men. Unfortunately, most afflicted individuals harbor micrometastatic disease and experience a course characterized by multiple local recurrences before the clinical development of distant disease. Approximately a third of patients have nodal involvement at presentation, and the overall 5-year survival is only 25%. Despite aggressive surgical resection and a multitude of adjuvant treatments, the prognosis remains grave. Early detection, which is difficult because of the occult anatomic locations in which these tumors occur, allows the best hope for cure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anus Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / diagnosis*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Mucous Membrane
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*