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Keywords:

  • high-risk melanoma;
  • interferon alpha;
  • pediatric melanoma

Abstract

Background

Pediatric patients with high-risk surgically resected melanoma are at risk for relapse, yet little is known about these young patients and how they tolerate high-dose interferon therapy.

Procedure

We reviewed medical records of patients (≤18 years) with high-risk melanoma referred to the University of Michigan Pediatric Hematology-Oncology service between January 1989 and July 2003.

Results

Fourteen patients were identified with high-risk resected melanoma. The median age at diagnosis was 8.5 years. The median time to establish diagnosis was 9 months. Primary lesions were diagnosed as unequivocal melanoma, atypical epithelioid melanocytic proliferations, or atypical Spitz tumor with indeterminate malignant potential. Twelve patients had a positive sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy or a palpable regional lymph node and underwent regional lymph node dissection (LND). Two patients with unequivocal melanoma with Breslow depth >4 mm had negative SLN biopsies. Twelve patients received adjuvant high-dose interferon. The following toxicities were observed: constitutional symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, depression or neuropsychiatric symptoms, myelosuppression, elevated AST or ALT, hypothyroidism, and hypertension. Grade 3 or 4 toxicities were uncommon with exception of neutropenia, resulting in modification of therapy in one patient. All patients are alive and free of disease at follow-up (median 24.5 months).

Conclusions

Invasive melanoma can occur in very young children. Despite early signs of malignancy, there is often a delay in diagnosis. Histologically, diagnosis may be difficult because of overlap with Spitz nevi. Pediatric patients tolerated adjuvant high-dose interferon well and may be less likely than adults to require therapy modification secondary to toxicities. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.