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Ann Surg Oncol. 2003 Jul;10(6):689-96.

Changing surgical therapy for melanoma of the external ear.

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Department of Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona 85259, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prognostic variables and clinical ramifications of melanoma of the ear.


A retrospective chart review of patients treated since 1985 at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, and Rochester, MN, identified 78 patients with complete follow-up.


Of these 78 patients, 68 (87%) were men; the mean age was 64 years (range, 23-87 years). Melanoma thickness averaged 1.7 mm (range,.2-7.0 mm). Treatment of the primary melanoma included wedge resection (59%), Mohs resection (14%), partial amputation (11%), skin and subcutaneous resection with perichondrium preservation (9%), and total amputation (7%). Nineteen patients underwent an elective lymph node dissection, and lymph node metastases were found in seven (37%). Two patients presented with clinically positive lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed in 10 patients. After a mean follow-up of 55.7 months, 10 patients (13%) had local recurrence, 9 patients (12%) had regional recurrence, and systemic metastases had developed in 17 patients (22%). Tumor thickness, lymph node metastases, and local recurrence significantly affected systemic recurrence.


The treatment of malignant melanoma of the external ear should follow current standard guidelines, which require wide local excision with negative margins. Sentinel lymph node biopsy can be used to identify patients with lymph node metastases who are at high risk of recurrence.

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