Vaginal melanoma is a rare malignancy that originates from melanocytes in the vaginal epithelium. It is also known as a melanocytic tumor or as a malignant melanoma. It is aggressive and infrequently cured. The five year survival rate is approximately 21%. It was first described in 1887 and only 500 cases are found in current literature. Vaginal melanoma is 3% of all vaginal cancers and only 0.3% of all melanomas. When the neoplasm is discovered it has already become invasive and prognosis is poor. The average age of those diagnosed is sixty-years-old.
This cancer most often develops on the lowest third of the vagina. It is darkly pigmented and of an irregular shape. Melanoma of the vagina can be as large as severally centimeters in size.
When the tissue is assessed, the histological characteristics include:
- the shape of the cells appear similar to epithelial and spindle-shaped
- the growth occurs in the shapes of sheets and nests
- the presence of melanin in the cells
- the nucleus of the cells is large and abnormal
Other cancerous conditions arise from vaginal epithelium:
Chemotherapy may be ineffective and surgically removing the tumor and radiation treatment is standard.
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