Morphologic diversity in malignant melanomas

R. E. Nakhleh, M. R. Wick, A. Rocamora, P. E. Swanson, L. P. Dehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


A review was conducted of 335 malignant melanomas to identify variant morphologic patterns that might be confused with other tumors. In all, 27 predominantly amelanotic neoplasms with unusual histologic features were selected for additional study. These included nine with an adenoid or pseudopapillary pattern, seven small cell neopalsms, five with prominent myxoid stroma, four with a hemangiopericytoma-like appearance, and two composed of neoplastic cells with a signet-ring configuration. A diagnosis of melanoma was confirmed in all cases by Fntana-Masson stains for melanin pigment, electron microscopic examination, or the results of immunohistochemical analyses for cytokeratin, vimentin, S-100 protein, and the HMB-45 antigen. One tumor was associated with a congenital hairy melanocytic nevus, five were vulvovaginal lesions, four arose in the sinonasal tract, and one occurred in the rectum. Four of the specified microscopic patterns were observed in both primary and secondary neoplasms; the two signet-ring cell melanomas were recurrent lesions. The authors conclude that malignant melanomas may assume the histologic guise of adenocarcinomas, small cell carcinomas, and sarcomas, in a variety of tissue sites. Special studies designed to detect melanocytic differentiation are therefore appropriate in diverse differential diagnostic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-740
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


  • Differential diagnosis
  • Electron microscopy
  • Histologic variants
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Malignant melanoma


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