Small bowel perforation caused by advanced melanoma


The incidence of melanoma has been increasing over the years and it remains, despite the heterogeneous survival for different stages, a disease with high mortality. Dissemination occurs primarily by the lymphatic route, followed by the hematogenous route. Gastrointestinal metastases do occur, but they are mainly intraluminal mucosal melanomas. Peritoneal or primary mucosal melanomas are rare.
Only a few cases have been described of patients presenting with acute abdominal pain due to a melanoma. In this report we present a young patient with no prior health problems. Due to silent progression of disease at first, and secondarily avoidance of medical consultation, she finally presented to our emergency department with signs of intestinal perforation. In the operating theater a massive metastasis in the intestines with perforation was seen, as well as many smaller intra-abdominal and cutaneous lesions. Approximately 35 cm of jejunum had to be resected. Furthermore, the primary melanoma on the left forearm was excised and turned out to be in almost complete regression. Although initial recovery after surgery was good, the patient died only one month after presentation due to the advanced nature of her disease, which points to the devastating effect of undiagnosed melanoma and gastrointestinal metastasis. Since the melanoma incidence is rising, similar cases may present in the near future. This emphasizes the importance of proper full physical examination in patients with atypical abdominal symptoms.

Tumori 2014; 100(4): e140 - e143

Article Type: CASE REPORT



Sjoerd H den Uil, Irene Thomassen, Erik GJ Vermeulen, Ronald JCLM Vuylsteke, Hein BAC Stockmann, Mattijs de Vries

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