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Int J Surg Case Rep. 2012;3(9):441-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijscr.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 May 24.

Primary biliary tract melanoma: Report of a case and review of the literature.

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Department of Pathology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287, United States.



Primary melanoma of the bile duct is extremely rare with only nine cases of primary melanoma of the bile duct reported in the literature.


A 55-year-old previously healthy gentleman developed increasing jaundice over several months and subsequently underwent an ERCP with stone extraction. Cytology brushings in an area of a distal stricture in the bile duct were concerning for cholangiocarcinoma. The patient was referred to our institution and underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy. The surgical specimen showed a single 4.5cm polypoid lesion located in the bile duct. A diagnosis of melanoma was rendered after immunohistochemical studies on the tumor demonstrated positivity for melanoma markers. Follow-up of the patient with skin, ocular, and lymph node exams showed no evidence of melanoma. A PET scan 4 and 10 months post-surgery failed to reveal either a primary skin lesion or other sites of metastases.


The vast majority of melanomas of the bile duct represent metastases from a cutaneous source and tend to present as multiple flat pigmented lesions. Conversely, cases of primary bile duct melanoma are characterized by a distinct gross morphology consisting of a solitary intraluminal polypoid lesion attached by a pedicle with no other identifiable primary lesion. Other supporting criteria include absence of other involved sites and presence of an in situ junctional component.


Given the clinical history, gross findings, and lack of a primary cutaneous site or other demonstrable metastases, this patient likely represents the tenth reported case of primary biliary tract melanoma.

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