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Lancet Oncol. 2009 May;10(5):516-21. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70036-1.

Melanoma of the small intestine.

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King's College, Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St Thomas's Hospital, London, UK.


Intestinal melanomas can be primary tumours or metastases of cutaneous, ocular, or anal melanomas. Primary intestinal melanoma is extremely rare, whereas metastatic melanoma of the small bowel is common because of the tendency for cutaneous melanoma to metastasise to the gastrointestinal tract. Because distinguishing between primary and metastatic intestinal melanoma can be difficult, the main features of each are discussed, and the diagnostic images used to detect intestinal melanoma are assessed. Routine barium examinations and CT have limited sensitivity, but PET imaging can improve detection of melanoma metastases to the small bowel. Although various treatment strategies have been tried in patients with intestinal melanoma, surgical removal of intestinal metastases is the treatment of choice in patients with resectable tumours. No systemic therapy improves survival in patients with melanoma metastatic to the intestines; thus, the prognosis for these patients is poor. Patients with primary melanoma of the small intestine have a worse prognosis than do patients with metastases of cutaneous melanoma.

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