This study was performed to analyse the behaviour, risk factors, prognosis and evolution of cutaneous melanoma in childhood and adolescence treated in a single institution. A retrospective study was performed between 1980 and 2000 of patients aged 18 years or younger followed at the Hospital do Câncer de São Paulo, Brazil. Data included demographic status, risk factors, clinical and histopathological characteristics of the primary and metastatic lesions, stage and follow-up. Seventeen female (53.1%) and 15 male (46.9%) patients were studied. Twelve patients (37.5%) were aged 12 years or younger. The trunk was the most common location (14 patients; 43.8%). Five patients (15.6%) had giant congenital melanocytic naevus, three (9.4%) had xeroderma pigmentosum and one (3%) had dysplastic melanocytic naevus. Nodular melanoma was the most frequent histological type and 43.8% had a thickness of more than 4 mm. Five of the 32 patients (15.6%) were lost to follow-up and 15 (46.9%) were alive at the last year's follow-up, 11 (34.4%) without disease and four (12.5%) with active disease. The 5-year overall survival was 64.34%. An overall survival of 11.71% was found in patients with visceral metastasis with or without cutaneous and/or lymph node involvement, whereas the corresponding value was 90.48% (P value=0.0002) in patients with only cutaneous and/or lymph node metastasis. Cutaneous melanomas are uncommon in the young and are seldom diagnosed in the early stages, perhaps due to a reluctance to accept this diagnosis in this age group. Prevention and early stage diagnosis depend upon the recognition that this disease is present in the young.
Departments of aCutaneous Oncology
bAnatomic Pathology, Centro de Tratamento e Pesquisa Hospital do Câncer de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr Bianca Costa Soares de Sá, Hospital do Câncer de São Paulo, Departamento de Oncologia Cutânea, Rua: Prof. Antonio Prudente, 211, CEP: 01509-900, São Paulo-SP, Brazil
Tel: (55) 11 3272-5136; fax: (55) 11 3272-5119;
Received 22 January 2004 Accepted (after revision) 7 September 2004