Malignant melanoma in childhood: A clinicopathologic study of 13 cases and comparison with spitz nevi
The clinical and histological features of 13 malignant melanomas in children less than 13 years of age in New South Wales, Australia, were compared with those in a control group of children with 15 Spitz nevi, 4 of which were considered atypical, and 2 unusual compound nevocellular nevi. Six of the controls had been previously diagnosed histologically as malignant melanoma. The objective observations made by one or more histopathologists experienced in reporting melanocytic lesions, and the clinical details, mainly from the Sydney Melanoma Unit files, were entered on a detailed protocol. Evaluation was assisted by the use of SPSS-X software on a mainframe VAX computer. Six of the 13 children with malignant melanoma died with their disease. The most frequent clinical features found in the malignant melanomas were bleeding, ulceration, itching, and black or variegated color. Recent enlargement and darkening were noted in the majority of both the malignant melanomas and the Spitz nevi. Histological features favoring malignancy in this series were mitoses within 0.25 mm of the dermal margin of the melanoma, a dermal mitotic rate exceeding 2/mm2, ulceration, surface exudate, large pigment granules, and clear-cell differentiation. The median thickness of the malignant melanomas was 1.3 mm but in the 4 children who died with melanoma the median thickness was 2.9 mm. Absence of mitoses, predominance of spindle cells, and diffuse maturation favored Spitz nevus. The median thickness of the Spitz nevi was 0.7 mm.
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