Melanoma that involves the vulva and vagina and cervix is a rare condition. Melanoma is a dangerous malignancy because spread may occur very early and the tumor may be very small at the time it begins to spread in the body. This disease usually occurs after age 60. This disease is hard for patients to find because of the difficult location, and rarely recognized early because it is hidden from view. Melanoma demands great respect because it has a high risk for spread and recurrence. Historical treatment has not been as effective for melanoma compared to other cancers. Vulvar melanoma is 4-10 times more common than vaginal melanoma according to various reports in the literature.
An standard vaginal exam in the office should identify a vaginal melanoma. Any new vulvar skin lesions with a change in color or a persistent raised lump or sore should have a careful gynecologic exam. These tumors may also itch and burn or develop bleeding. A simple office biopsy may determine whether this is an innocent problem or a more dangerous tumor. The gynecologic cancer specialist can help confirm this diagnosis and start treatment plans.
Melanoma that is found early can be cured with surgical excision. Dr. Martin may use surgical techniques commonly required to treat other cancer types in this same area of the body. Newer medicines have recently made a significant improvement in response rates during treatment of metastases. Melanoma originating from the reproductive tract has different biologic markers and different gene profile compared to melanomas from other body areas. This may allow targeted treatment plans for individual patients.