Facial plast Surg 2011; 27(3): 237-242
DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1275772
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Primary Mucosal Malignant Melanoma of the Head and Neck

Andreas Borst1 , Volker Schwipper2
  • 1Department of Maxillofacial and Plastic Surgery, Fachklinik Hornheide, Westfälische Wilhelms University of Münster, Münster, Germany
  • 2Fachklinik Hornheide, Münster, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
12 May 2011 (online)


Diagnosis, therapy, and prognosis of 40 patients with malignant melanoma of the mucous membranes, treated at one hospital from 1971 to 2006, were evaluated in a retrospective study. The survival rate was compared with that established by the German-Austrian-Swiss Study Group on Tumors of the Head and Neck (DÖSAK) for 121 cases. The cumulated 5-year survival rate amounting to 33% (DÖSAK study 35%) emphasizes the unfavorable prognosis of this tumor. Age, sex, or tumor location had no significant impact on a patient's survival. A modified surgical concept has been developed for the treatment of the primary tumor and its lymphatic drainage area to maintain a patient's quality of life. The entire tumor should be resected under histologic control ensuring a 5-mm safety margin of healthy tissue. Bone should only be resected if invaded by the tumor. Large resections of the upper or lower jaw should be avoided. A neck dissection does not improve the prognosis and should be performed only in the case of histologically confirmed invasion of lymph nodes.