The term primary dermal melanoma has been used to describe a subtype of melanoma confined to the dermis and/or subcutaneous fat that histologically simulates metastasis but is associated with an unexpectedly prolonged survival. We report 7 cases of primary dermal melanoma diagnosed from 1998 to 2002 with no identifiable junctional or epidermal component or nevoid precursor. Histopathologic and immunohistochemical features were compared with known cases of cutaneous metastasis and nodular melanoma in an attempt to differentiate this entity from clinical and pathologic mimics.
Seven patients had a single dermal and/or subcutaneous focus of melanoma. Metastatic staging workup findings were negative, including results fromsentinel node and imaging studies. Mean Breslow depth was 7.0 mm, and mean maximum tumor diameter was 6.2 mm. The study cohort showed 100% survival at mean follow-up of 41 months (range, 10-64 months). Immunohistochemical analysis with S100, HMB-45, Ki-67, CD34, and p75 antibodies showed no significant staining patterns compared with metastatic and nodular melanomas.
Primary dermal melanoma appears to be a distinct subtype of melanoma based on the excellent prognosis associated with this case series and others. Additional research focusing on cause, appropriate staging, and outcome of previously identified solitary dermal metastasis is warranted to further delineate this entity.