PURPOSE: To investigate the clinical features and course of conjunctival malignant melanoma in Korea. METHODS: The medical records of 15 patients, 5 males and 10 females, diagnosed with conjunctival malignant melanoma who had been treated at Severance Hospital from May 1991 to March 2004 were reviewed retrospectively. The clinical parameters of the patients, tumors, and treatment were analyzed for their relation to outcome measures. RESULTS: The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 53.4 years (+/- 11.7 years). In all cases, the disease was unilateral and all patients had experienced at least one recurrence. Local lymph node metastasis was found in 3 patients (20%) and the mean time to metastasis was 3.5 years. Systemic metastasis was found in 6 patients (40%) and the mean time to metastasis was 9.3 years. There were 5 cases of tumor-related death (33.3%), 4 of which were attributed to systemic metastasis. The Kaplan-Meier estimates of cumulative survival rate were 90% at 30 months and 56.6% at 70 months. CONCLUSIONS: Although conjunctival malignant melanoma is a rare disease, it is life-threatening and complete tumor excision at an early stage is mandatory, as is additional therapy to prevent local recurrence and systemic metastasis.
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