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Laryngoscope. 2012 Nov;122(11):2436-41. doi: 10.1002/lary.23239. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Parotidectomy and neck dissection in the management of conjunctival melanoma: are they necessary?

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Department of Head and Neck Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.



The objectives of this study were to review traditional techniques for the management of conjunctival melanoma and assess the need for parotidectomy and neck dissection in the management of conjunctival melanoma.


Retrospective review.


This study was a retrospective review conducted in a tertiary academic medical center of patients diagnosed with conjunctival melanoma over a 20-year period


There were 39 patients diagnosed with conjunctival melanoma identified from January 1990 to December 2010. Follow-up varied from 2 to 201 months (median, 25 months). Of the patients, 16 (41%) had local recurrences at the primary site, two (13%) of whom later presented with parotid disease. One patient with parotid recurrence had a subsequent neck dissection for confirmed metastatic spread. No patient in this series had metastatic cervical disease without initial spread to the parotid. The probability of disease-free survival at 1, 2, and 5 years was 77%, 68%, and 50%, respectively. The probability of parotid free progression at 1, 2, and 5 years was 100%, 96%, and 90%, respectively.


Conjunctival melanoma is a rare malignancy traditionally managed with aggressive treatment to optimize local control. The role for staging parotidectomy with or without neck dissection has been heavily debated. Based on our review, parotidectomy only needs to be undertaken when high suspicion for metastatic spread is present, such as a palpable or radiographically evident mass. In addition, without documented parotid disease, neck dissection is not required.

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