Clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of primary malignant melanoma of esophagus: a single center experience

BMC Gastroenterol. 2022 Mar 29;22(1):157. doi: 10.1186/s12876-022-02235-8.


Background: Primary malignant melanoma of esophagus (PMME) is an extremely rare disease with poor prognosis. We aimed to determine the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients with PMME.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 17 patients diagnosed with PMME in Samsung Medical Center between 2000 and 2020 with median 34 months of follow-up. Survival outcomes were analyzed with Kaplan-Meier method.

Results: 15 patients (88.2%) were male and the most common presenting symptom was dysphagia (9/17, 52.9%). On endoscopy, tumors were mass-forming in 15 patients (88.2%) and diffusely infiltrative in two patients (11.8%). Lesions were melanotic in 13 patients (76.5%) and amelanotic in four patients (23.5%). The most common tumor location was lower esophagus (11/17, 64.7%). The disease was metastatic at the time of diagnosis in four patients (23.5%). As for treatment, 10 patients (58.8%) underwent surgery. In all 17 patients, the median overall survival was 10 months. In surgically treated patients, all patients experienced recurrence and the median disease-free survival was 4 months. There was no statistical difference in overall survival between patients with or without surgery. Patients with diffusely infiltrative tumor morphology had better overall survival compared to those with mass-forming tumor morphology (P = 0.048). Two patients who received immunotherapy as the first-line treatment without surgery showed overall survival of 34 and 18 months, respectively.

Conclusions: As radical resection for patients with PMME does not guarantee favorable treatment outcomes, novel treatment strategy is required. Further large-scale studies are warranted to determine the efficacy of immunotherapy for patients with PMME.

Keywords: Disease attributes; Melanoma; Survival; Treatment outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma* / diagnosis
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Melanoma* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms*
  • Treatment Outcome