While most melanomas develop in the skin, mucosal melanoma is always internal. It begins in the mucus membranes that line various parts of the body. This includes the head and neck region, the anus, the vagina and vulva, and the gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms vary based on the location of the melanoma. For example, signs of mucosal melanoma in the head and neck region may include mouth ulcers, nose bleeds, or a lump in the neck, jaw, or mouth. Signs of mucosal melanoma in the anus may include bleeding or pain in the area, diarrhea, or constipation.
Mucosal melanoma is very rare, accounting for 1 percent of all melanomas. Unlike skin melanoma, mucosal melanoma is not associated with time spent in the sun or tanning beds. Doctors are still trying to understand the underlying causes of mucosal melanoma.
Treatment for Mucosal Melanoma
Treatment for mucosal melanoma often involves surgery to remove the tumor. The goals for treatment of mucosal melanoma are to:
- cure the cancer
- prevent the cancer from coming back
The location and stage of the disease guide your care plan. If mucosal melanoma is more advanced, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of therapies may be used to shrink the tumor.
Why Choose Memorial Sloan Kettering for Mucosal Melanoma Care
To treat mucosal melanoma in the best possible way, it takes a dedicated team of experts. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s mucosal melanoma doctors have extensive experience in caring for people with this rare condition. We take a multidisciplinary approach to care. We bring together leading experts in surgery, drug therapy, and radiation therapy to create the most effective personalized treatment plan possible.
Our mucosal melanoma doctors are also leading researchers in the field. We may be able to offer new drug treatments, such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy, through our program of melanoma clinical trials. We are constantly looking for ways to make our approach to surgery and radiation more effective.