Although melanoma in childhood is a rare condition, there is evidence that it is increasing in frequency. As advances are being made in the understanding and therapy of adult melanoma, we need to consider the relevance of these advances to the pediatric population.
We have reviewed our experience at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center with the clinical parameters, therapy, and outcomes of melanoma in 27 patients age 16 years or younger and contrasted these to the adult experience.
Most cases were diagnosed early with the median thickness of the primary melanoma being 0.75 mm. Six of seven patients who had lymph node metastases develop remain alive at a median follow-up of 62 months. Durable complete responses to a variety of therapies were seen in three of five patients with advanced disease outside the central nervous system. Our experience with sentinel node biopsy, adjuvant interferon, and new therapies for metastatic melanoma were also reviewed and appear to be relevant for younger patients.
The behavior of melanoma in the pediatric population at our center is similar to that seen in adults. The integration of recent advances in the staging and therapy of melanoma in adults would be of benefit to children with this condition.
From the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Submitted for publication November 15, 1999; accepted March 7, 2000.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Peter Gibbs, M.D., Melanoma Research Clinics, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Box E-190, Denver, CO 80262. E-mail: Peter.Gibbs@UCHSC.edu.