Upper aerodigestive tract metastases in disseminated malignant melanoma

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1986 Jun;112(6):659-63. doi: 10.1001/archotol.1986.03780060071011.


Cutaneous malignant melanoma sometimes metastasizes to the upper respiratory and digestive tracts. It may cause significant local symptoms such as airway obstruction and dysphagia, and, in some cases, may represent the initial manifestation of disseminated disease. Of the 8,823 patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma seen at The University of Texas-M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute at Houston between 1944 and 1983, metastases to this region developed in 54 patients. The most common sites involved were the tonsil, tongue, nasopharynx, larynx, and lip. Five of ten cases in which an autopsy was performed were noted to have previously undiagnosed metastatic mucosal lesions. We conclude that metastases to the upper aerodigestive tract in patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma is a distinct possibility. Melanoma patients who manifest symptoms localized to this region should be carefully examined to exclude the possibility of metastatic tumor, since alternative treatment may be required. Local endoscopic treatment may be necessary to relieve airway or digestive tract obstruction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lip Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms*
  • Time Factors
  • Tongue Neoplasms / secondary
  • Tonsillar Neoplasms / secondary