Animal-type melanoma – tumor cell invasion of dermal lymphatics and molecular identification of lymph node metastasis


Dr. med. Christian Posch
Dermatologische Abteilung Kranke-
nanstalt Rudolfstiftung
Juchgasse 25
A-1030 Wien
Tel.: +43-711-65-92787
Fax: +43-711-65-2729


Animal-type melanoma (ATM) represents a rare subtype within the wide spectrum of melanocytic tumors. Clinically, ATM lesions appear as sharply demarcated, brown, black and dark blue pigmented nodules, which show grey-white surface elements on dermatoscopy. The tumor is restricted to the dermis and arranged in irregular fascicles, which are composed of spindle-shaped and epithelioid melanocytes. Moderate tumor cell pleomorphism, mitoses and apoptotic cells all suggest a malignant process. Abundant, finely dispersed melanin pigment within tumor cells as well as numerous melanophages are strongly suggestive of ATM. Even though locoregional lymph node metastases are frequently found at diagnosis, the course of ATM is generally benign. Specific molecular changes may be detected in melanocytes from lesions and lymph nodes on fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Such findings strongly indicate the malignant potential of ATM. The peculiar biology of ATM, as a moderately malignant tumor, is reflected in a new histopathological classification within the spectrum of dermal borderline melanocytic tumors (BMT).