What are the most common locations for head and neck mucosal melanomas?

Updated: May 07, 2020
  • Author: Neeraj N Mathur, MBBS, MS, DNB(ENT), MNAMS, FAMS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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In consequence of their hidden location, head and neck mucosal melanomas are usually diagnosed in a locoregionally advanced clinical stage, with a rate of 5-48% of regional and 4-14% of distant dissemination. The nasal cavity is the most common location within the head and neck area. The exact origin of sinonasal tract disease is often difficult to ascertain because of anatomic limitations and advanced stage at presentation with involvement of multiple subsites.

Within the nasal cavity, disease of the anterior portion of the nasal septum accounts for most cases, followed by the middle turbinate, then the inferior turbinate. However, melanoma is virtually nonexistent in the superior turbinate, the olfactory region, or the ethmoid sinus. The palate and alveolar gingiva are the most common sites in the oral cavity. Other reported locations include the lower and upper labial mucosa, buccal mucosa, and tongue. Very rarely, mucosal melanoma can be found in the pharynx, larynx, or upper esophagus. The most common site in the larynx is the supraglottic region.

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