To evaluate the role of surgery in the survival of patients with melanoma metastatic to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Tertiary cancer center.
One hundred twenty-four potential surgical candidates with metastatic melanoma in the stomach, small intestine, colon, or rectum.
Main Outcome Measures:
Operative morbidity and mortality, relief of presenting symptoms, and median and 5-year survival.
The median disease-free interval prior to diagnosis of GI tract metastasis was 23.2 months (range, 1-154 months). Patients typically presented with crampy abdominal pain, symptomatic mass, and/or occult GI tract blood loss. Of the 124 patients, 69 (55%) underwent surgical exploration of the abdomen, 46 (66%) had curative resection, and 23 (34%) had a palliative procedure. There was only 1 operative death and 1 major operative complication; 67 (97%) of 69 surgical patients experienced postoperative relief of their presenting GI tract symptoms. The median survival in patients undergoing curative resection was 48.9 months, compared with only 5.4 months and 5.7 months in those undergoing palliative procedures and nonsurgical interventions, respectively. By multivariate analysis, the 2 most important prognostic factors for long-term survival were complete resection of GI tract metastases and the GI tract as the initial site of distant metastases.
Almost all patients with melanoma and GI tract metastases can have palliation of symptoms by surgical intervention with minimal morbidity and mortality. The high 5-year survival rate associated with complete surgical resection of GI tract metastases indicates that surgery should be strongly considered for this subgroup of patients with melanoma and distant metastatic disease.Arch Surg. 1996;131:975-980