Treatment of head and neck mucosal melanoma remains a challenge. Surgery has traditionally been the main therapeutic approach. The role of postoperative radiotherapy has never been clearly established.
The experience with a group of 42 patients (16 males, 26 females) with a primary head and neck mucosal melanoma is reported.
Eleven of 19 patients (57.9%) receiving surgery alone developed a regional lymphatic metastasis. For patients receiving postoperative radiotherapy (19 patients), regional metastatic spread occurred in 4 patients (21%). Percentages of local failure were 57.9% (11/19) and 26.3% (5/19) for patients treated with surgery alone and for those treated with surgery and radiotherapy, respectively. Distant metastases occurred in 10 of 19 patients (52.6%) receiving surgery alone and in 9 of 19 patients (47.3%) receiving both therapies.
The present evaluation confirms a poor prognosis for patients with head and neck mucosal melanoma, independent of the treatment modality.