Subungual Melanoma of the Hand
The diagnosis of subungual melanoma (SUM) can be challenging and SUMs generally have a worse prognosis than melanomas arising elsewhere. Due to their rarity, the evidence to guide management is limited. This study sought to identify clinicopathological features predictive of outcome and to provide guidelines for management.
From a large, single-institution database, 103 patients with in situ (n = 9) or invasive (n = 94) SUMs of the hand treated between 1953 and 2014 were identified and their features analyzed.
The most common site of hand SUMs was the thumb (53%). Median tumor thickness was 3.1 mm, and SUMs were commonly of the acral subtype (57%), ulcerated (58%), amelanotic (32%), and had mitoses (73%). Twenty-one patients reported prior trauma to the tumor site. Twenty-two patients were stage III at diagnosis; 7 underwent therapeutic lymph node dissection and 22 underwent elective lymph node dissection (5 positive), while 36 had sentinel node biopsy (SNB), 28% of which were positive. Forty percent of SNB-positive patients had involved non-sentinel nodes (SNs) in their completion lymph node dissection. Five-year melanoma-specific survival (MSS) and disease-free survival (DFS) rates were 70% and 52%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, regional node metastasis and right-hand tumor location were significant predictors of shorter DFS and MSS, whereas mitoses negatively impacted DFS only and increasing Breslow thickness impacted MSS only.
This study confirms that SUMs on the hand usually present at an advanced stage. Distal amputation appears safe for invasive SUMs, and SNB should be considered as these patients have a high risk of both SN and non-SN metastasis.
The authors wish to thank The Dagmar Marshall Foundation and The Danish Cancer Society for financial research support for Annette Chakera to finalize this study. Assistance from colleagues at Melanoma Institute Australia and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is also gratefully acknowledged. RAS is supported by an NHMRC Fellowship. JFT is supported by the Melanoma Foundation of the University of Sydney.
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