Clinicopathologic study of 85 cases of melanoma of the female genitalia

Win Tcheung, M Selim, James Herndon, Amy Abernethy, Kelly Nelson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    65 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Melanoma of the female genitalia has poor overall prognosis. Objective and methods: To examine prognostic factors influencing survival, the Duke Melanoma and Tumor Registry Databases were queried for patients who had received their clinical care at Duke University Medical Center, with a diagnosis of melanoma of the female genitalia, including vulva, vagina, and cervix, between 1970 and 2009. From this group, any available histopathologic specimens were procured for further review. Results: Eighty-five patients were identified. The median follow-up time was 8.8 years with 60% of the patients experiencing melanoma-related mortality at last follow-up. Survival rates at 1, 5, and 10 years were 85%, 51%, and 30%, respectively. The available histopathologic specimens from 36 cases were reviewed by a dermatopathologist (M.A.S.). Fifteen of 36 cases were notable for the presence of atypical melanocytic hyperplasia adjacent to the primary melanoma. Breslow depth, lymph node status, systemic therapy, and surgery were also examined for differences in survival distributions using the log-rank test. In general, survival was inversely correlated with Breslow depth, extent of nodal involvement, and provision of systemic therapy. A higher survival rate was observed among those who received wide local excision. Log-rank test demonstrated that survival between different decades of diagnosis was not significantly different. Limitations: Because of its small sample size, this study may be underpowered. Conclusion: Despite new treatments developed and attempted, there is no evidence that survival has improved over the past 40 years. In summary, patients with thinner melanomas amenable to surgical resection had a better prognosis than those with more extensive, metastatic disease at presentation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)598-605
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


    • atypical melanocytic hyperplasia
    • female genitalia
    • histopathologic features
    • melanoma
    • sentinel lymph node dissection
    • vulva
    • vulvar melanoma


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