A retrospective multicenter study of fatal pediatric melanoma

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020 Nov;83(5):1274-1281. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2020.06.1010. Epub 2020 Jul 2.


Background: Pediatric melanoma is rare and diagnostically challenging.

Objective: To characterize clinical and histopathologic features of fatal pediatric melanomas.

Methods: Multicenter retrospective study of fatal melanoma cases in patients younger than 20 years diagnosed between 1994 and 2017.

Results: Of 38 cases of fatal pediatric melanoma identified, 57% presented in white patients and 19% in Hispanic patients. The average age at diagnosis was 12.7 years (range, 0.0-19.9 y), and the average age at death was 15.6 years (range, 1.2-26.2 y). Among cases with known identifiable subtypes, 50% were nodular (8/16), 31% were superficial spreading (5/16), and 19% were spitzoid melanoma (3/16). One fourth (10/38) of melanomas arose in association with congenital melanocytic nevi.

Limitations: Retrospective nature, cohort size, and potential referral bias.

Conclusions: Pediatric melanoma can be fatal in diverse clinical presentations, including a striking prevalence of Hispanic patients compared to adult disease, and with a range of clinical subtypes, although no fatal cases of spitzoid melanoma were diagnosed during childhood.

Keywords: melanoma; oncology; pediatric dermatology; pediatric melanoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Young Adult