Subungual melanoma. A review of 93 cases with identification of prognostic variables.
From 1970 to 1996, 93 patients received diagnoses of subungual melanoma. Followup data were complete on all patients and reviewed with a median duration of followup of 5.2 years. This study identifies significant clinicopathologic variables that affect survival and provides the orthopaedic surgeon assistance in the early diagnosis and treatment of this lesion. Eight-three percent of patients presented with Stage I disease, whereas 17% had nodal or distant disease. Fifty-three percent had locally advanced disease at presentation. Twelve percent of the patients were African-American. Fifty-five percent of the lesions arose on the hands with thumb involvement predominating in more than half of these cases. Operative therapy consisted of amputation. Elective lymph node dissection was performed in 34 patients (37%) for Stage I tumors of intermediate thickness. Therapeutic node dissection was required in 16 patients (17%) for positive nodes. Five-year survival was 74% for patients with Stage I disease and 40% for patients with Stage II disease. Statistical analysis identified stage at diagnosis, Clark and Wihm's level, the patient's race, and the presence of ulceration as prognostic variables affecting survival. The diagnosis of subungual melanoma carries a grave prognosis and often is misdiagnosed in the early stages. The treatment of choice is amputation at the appropriate level.
O'Leary, JA; Berend, KR; Johnson, JL; Levin, LS; Seigler, HF
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