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Melanoma in the gallbladder, a review of the literature

Monika Kalcheva, Hristo Stefanov, Julien Mironov, Damyan Iliev, Yavor Kashlov


Introduction: Melanoma in the gallbladder can occur either primarily or as a metastasis of a mela­noma originating from other parts of the body. The condition is rare in both cases. 2-4% of gastroin­testinal metastases of melanoma are in the gallbladder and they represent up to 60% of all metastat­ic cancer in the gallbladder.

Materials and Methods: PubMed, Medline, Google Scholar and Scopus were used to find relevant ar­ticles and Mendeley was used as a reference manager. Keywords that were used in the search - mel­anoma, gallbladder, metastasis. 25 relevant articles with years of publishing spanning from 1976 to 2017 were reviewed. The articles included 22 case reports and one retrospective study of 11 patients with gallbladder metastases which were then reviewed on the basis of gender, age, presence of symp­toms and way of treatment.

Results: The average age of the patients in the reviewed case reports was 54 years, 10 males and 12 females. 7 of the patients had a primary melanoma in the gallbladder and 15 had a metastatic dis­ease. 13 patients had symptoms of acute cholecystitis and/or jaundice and 9 patients presented with­out symptoms. The retrospective study presented 11 patients with gallbladder metastases and 2 with other gastrointestinal metastases; average age - 56; 8 males and 5 females. The diagnosis was based on previous history of melanoma, imaging studies and immunohistology. The therapy was primarily laparoscopic cholecystectomy. For proto-oncogene B-Raf positive patients proto-oncogene B-Raf in­hibitors and Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase enzyme inhibitors were used.

Conclusion: Despite of their rarity, gallbladder metastases should be suspected and further investi­gated in patients with unclear lesions of the biliary tree and past history of melanoma. Diagnosing gallbladder metastasis is associated with poor prognosis. Despite this, in patients with isolated gall­bladder lesions surgery can be performed with improved patient survival.


melanoma; gallbladder; metastasis



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