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Ungual melanoma – controversies in diagnosis and treatment


  • Eckart Haneke

    Corresponding author
    1. Dermatol Clin “Dermaticum,”, Freiburg, Germany
    2. Centro Dermatol “Epidermis,”, Inst CUF, Porto, Portugal
    3. Dept Dermatol, Acad Hosp, Univ Gent, Gent, Belgium
    • Dept Dermatol, Inselspital, Univ Bern, Bern, Switzerland
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eckart Haneke, MD, PhD, Schlippehof 5, 79910 Freiburg, Germany, or email:


Ungual melanomas are considered rare, being difficult to diagnose, and having a poor prognosis. The aim of the present study was to discuss the epidemiology, potential causes, treatment options, and outcome of ungual melanomas. In contrast to assumptions in many articles, ungual melanomas are not rare when calculated for the cumulative size of the nail apparatus of both the fingers and toes. The prognosis is not worse than that of melanomas with the same thickness, mitotic rate, or presence of ulceration on other sites. Melanomas of the nail apparatus behave similar to melanomas in other localizations. What makes them enigmatic is the high rate of misdiagnoses and very late diagnoses.