Conjunctival melanoma: local-regional control rates, and impact of high-risk histopathologic features

J Cutan Pathol. 2011 Jan;38(1):18-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0560.2010.01625.x. Epub 2010 Sep 23.


Background: Conjunctival melanoma is an uncommon malignancy with the potential for significant morbidity. Ulceration is known to be an indicator of more aggressive cutaneous melanoma. This factor has not been previously evaluated in conjunctival melanoma.

Methods: Twenty-six patients with conjunctival melanoma who underwent excision by a single surgeon at a cancer referral center treated between June 2003 and July 2008 were included. The medical records were reviewed for clinical and pathological data. Outcomes assessed included local recurrence, regional lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis, use of adjuvant topical chemotherapy or adjuvant radiation therapy, final visual acuity and death.

Results: Local recurrence was seen in three patients (12%). Regional lymph node metastasis and distant metastasis were each seen in four patients (15%). Tumors >2.0 mm thick were more likely to develop distant metastasis than those with a thickness of <2.0 mm (p = 0.0331). Ulceration was noted in 10 of 26 patients. Regional lymph node metastasis and distant metastasis were each seen in 4 of 10 patients with ulceration, and none of the patients without ulceration.

Conclusions: Ulceration in conjunctival melanoma may be an important histopathologic predictor of a more aggressive tumor. Globe-sparing multi-modality management of conjunctival melanoma can yield acceptable rates of local-regional recurrence.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Male
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Retrospective Studies