Melanoma arising from the mucosal surfaces of the head and neck

Meir Gorsky, Joel B. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oral mucosal malignant melanoma is a rare disease. We reviewed 30 years of data from a tumor registry and identified 65 patients who had head and neck melanomas. Two thirds (43) of the 65 patients were identified as male, with the mean age in the sixth decade. Of the 65 patients, only 6 had melanoma that arose from the oropharyngeal mucosa. Of the lesions involving the oral mucosa, each lesion manifested itself as a mass or was associated with symptoms of discomfort; only one third (2) of the lesions were pigmented. The clinician must carefully examine the head, neck, and oral cavity, and any pigmented lesion that is not recognized as a specific entity, such as amalgam tattoo, should be biopsied. The more common presentation of amelanotic malignant melanoma requires a high index of suspicion for masses identified in the mouth and requires biopsy for definitive diagnosis. The prognosis for oral mucosal malignant melanoma is poor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-719
Number of pages5
JournalOral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998


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