Author(s): Buchanan DJ, Schlaerth J, Kurosaki T
OBJECTIVES: We present a case report of a woman who has survived 13 years after conservative treatment with wide excision for vaginal melanoma and review and evaluate the literature on this disease since the last metaanalysis in 1989. STUDY DESIGN: A database literature search along with cross referencing from related articles uncovered 66 patients who were reported to have vaginal melanoma since 1989 with adequate information for our analysis. We add to this one original case reported by us. Where information was available, we analyzed outcomes on these cases on the basis of patient age, tumor thickness, tumor size, and treatment. RESULTS: The patient we describe is only the eighteenth reported patient to survive vaginal melanoma 5 years and only the third to survive for 10 years. Of the 67 patients in our overall review, mean age at the time of diagnosis was 62 years. Patients with tumor size < 3 cm had a mean survival of 41 months compared with 12 months for those with tumor size > or = 3 cm (p < 0.0024). Tumor thickness did not significantly affect patient survival at any of the depths analyzed, although there was a tendency toward significance at depths > 8 mm (p < 0.0778). There also was no significant difference in patient outcome among five treatment groups: (1) wide excision, (2) radical surgery, (3) radiation therapy, (4) wide excision plus radiation therapy, and (5) other. CONCLUSION: Tumor size appears to affect survival in patients with vaginal melanoma. Tumor thickness, at least at the levels at which vaginal melanomas are currently being diagnosed, does not seem to affect survival. Because no single treatment is clearly preferable, we suggest conservative resection where possible. We find it difficult to support radical surgery as primary treatment for vaginal melanoma unless necessary to achieve clear tumor margins. Radiation therapy appears to offer results comparable to those of surgery.