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Journal of surgical oncology


Aged; Cohort Studies; Databases, Factual; Female; Head and Neck Neoplasms; Humans; Male; Melanoma; Middle Aged; Neoplasm Staging; Prognosis; Scalp; Skin Neoplasms; Survival Rate


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: For patients with cutaneous melanoma, primary tumors located in the head and neck is associated with poor outcomes. The reason for this difference and whether it is applicable to all locations within the head and neck remains unclear. We hypothesized that scalp melanoma is uniquely distinguished from other anatomic sites and is independently responsible for the poor prognosis of head and neck melanoma.

METHODS: Query and analysis of a prospectively maintained melanoma database of all patients treated for primary cutaneous melanoma from 1971 to 2010.

RESULTS: Of 11 384 patients identified, 7% (n = 799) of lesions originated on the scalp. Scalp primaries were more often found in males and were associated with increased Breslow thickness and were more frequently ulcerated compared to all other anatomic sites (P = 0.0001). On multivariate analysis, scalp location was an independent predictor of worse melanoma-specific (HR 1.75; CI 1.50-2.04; P < 0.0001) and overall survival (HR 1.62; CI 1.41-1.86; P < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: This, the largest series examining scalp melanoma, confirms that scalp location is independently responsible for the negative prognosis associated with head and neck melanoma. Although the pathophysiology of this difference remains to be determined, these data argue for more rigorous surveillance of this anatomic location.

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