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BACKGROUND: Melanoma is an aggressive malignant neoplasm with poor prognosis. This traditional poor prognosis has improved dramatically in more developed nations, mainly by early ‘naked eyes’ detection. Thus, this study aims to assess the clinicopathologic features of head and neck melanoma diagnosed in a Nigerian tertiary hospital, over a 28-year period, in a bid to increase the index of suspicion for the disease by emphasising its early features.
METHOD: This was a retrospective review of the clinicopathologic features of patients diagnosed of melanoma at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.
RESULT: Thirty-one cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the study period, with a male preponderance (2.4:1) and mean age of 55.0 ±14.6 years. The youngest patient was a 28-year-old female with melanoma of the nasal mucosa, while the oldest was an 80-year-old male, with conjunctiva melanoma. No case was diagnosed before 3rd decade of life, and only four patients were below 40 years old, with a Male: Female ratio of 1:3. Symptoms observed by patients were varied, site dependent and non-specific. Extra cutaneous melanoma accounted for 61.3% of cases with a mean age of 58.4±14.3years and male preponderance (2.2:1), while cutaneous melanoma was diagnosed in 12 (48.7%) patients with a mean age of 49.8±14.1 years and male preponderance (4.0:1).
Conclusion Melanoma is very rare in our society with only 31 cases diagnosed over a 28-year period. There is a profound female predominance before the age of 40 years after which male predilection was marked