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Vulvar Melanoma: Review of Diagnosis, Staging, and Therapy

Wechter, Mary Ellen MD1; Reynolds, R. Kevin MD1; Haefner, Hope K. MD1; Lowe, Lori MD2,5; Gruber, Stephen B. MD, PhD6; Schwartz, Jennifer L. MD2; Johnston, Carolyn M. MD1; Johnson, Timothy M. MD2,3,4

Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease: January 2004 - Volume 8 - Issue 1 - p 58-69
Review Article

Objectives. To update, assimilate, and bridge the contemporary literature on vulvar and cutaneous melanoma regarding diagnosis, staging, and therapy to provide a useful clinical reference for managing and counseling for affected patients.

Materials and Methods. A computerized search for reports in the literature up to June 2003 was carried out using PubMed and MEDLINE databases. Multidisciplinary involvement was used in evaluating the available data and formulating conclusions.

Results. More than 300 reports were reviewed. Diagnosis, staging, and therapy aspects of vulvar melanoma are summarized.

Conclusions. Vulvar melanoma represents a subtype of cutaneous melanoma, with similar prognostic and staging factors. The most recent American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system for cutaneous melanoma is applicable to vulvar melanoma. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is reliable for staging the regional lymph node basin for vulvar melanoma. Standardized documentation of clinical and histopathologic parameters is needed to standardize grouping of cases for future comparison studies.

Departments of 1 Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2 Dermatology, 3 Otolaryngology, 4 Surgery, 5 Pathology, 6 Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Michigan Health System, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI

Reprint requests to: Timothy M. Johnson, MD, University of Michigan Health System, 1910 Taubman Center, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0314. E-mail:

©2004The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology