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Cancer. 2007 Apr 15;109(8):1579-83.

Influence of age on survival in childhood spitzoid melanomas.

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Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York 10032, USA.



Melanoma occurring during childhood and adolescence is rare. Although a few limited studies suggest that the prognosis of childhood melanomas is similar to those in adults, and is dependent on the initial stage of the tumor, there is controversy with respect to the biologic behavior of childhood melanomas. Spitzoid melanoma is a subtype of melanoma with distinct clinical and histopathologic features. The prognosis of spitzoid melanoma in children, despite metastasis, has been suggested to be better than that observed in adults; however, this assertion remains controversial. Whereas a number of spitzoid melanomas with regional lymph node metastasis with no further progression have been reported, cases leading to widespread metastasis and fatal outcomes are also well documented.


A retrospective review of the literature was conducted between 1949 and 2006. A total of 82 cases of spitzoid melanoma with regional and/or widespread metastasis that occurred in children, 17 years of age and under, were selected for the analysis.


The 5-year survival rate in children diagnosed with metastatic spitzoid melanomas between 0 and 10 years of age was 88% compared with 49% in those between 11 and 17 years of age.


The findings support the notion that younger age (< or =10) may be associated with longer survival in children with metastatic spitzoid melanomas.

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