My Dad has Melanoma of the Colon


My dad recently had a polyp removed from his colon and the lab said it's melanoma. We've spoken with five doctors in our area and it has them all stumped. Your article is the first thing I have been able to find concerning it. I want more information... there is so little to find. As it stands now, my dad is scheduled for a PET scan to try to find anything else that may be present.

Of course, some of my main questions are:

  1. What is the survival rate for melanoma of the colon?
  2. What type of treatment options does my dad have to choose from for melanoma?
  3. Have you found a particular doctor who has dealt with melanoma of the colon more successfully than others?

My dad is only 67 and he just got to start enjoying his retirement a few years ago. I want to help--any way I can. Information doesn't seem to be readily available on the subject, and usually, information is one of the most valuable assets to have. Thank you for any and all help you can lend.

You're right. There isn't much information out there about melanoma of the colon. This is probably in part due to its rarity. Melanoma of the colon accounts for fewer than 2% of all colorectal cancers. I'll do my best to help with what I was able to learn. Let's take your questions one by one.

1) What is the survival rate for melanoma of the colon?

The answer to this one is the ever-irritating "It depends".

A lot of factors influence the survival rate of people who have melanoma. Examples are tumor size, depth of invasion, tumor thickness, and tumor stage at diagnosis. In general, survival rates are better for patients with stage 1 (very early) melanoma than for stage 4 (malignant) melanoma.

A tumor diameter less than two centimeters, a tumor thickness less than two millimeters, and an early tumor stage at diagnosis would all be good news for your dad.

If he is diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, you may want to read Survival Rates for Stage 4 Melanoma of the Colon and Rectum. I believe people have a right to know what they're up against so they can step into the ring swinging, determined to beat the odds. This is what I wish for your dad, should it come down to it.

2) What type of treatment options does my dad have to choose from for melanoma?

An article in the April 2003 issue of the journal Diseases of the Colon and Rectum discusses one treatment option for melanoma of the colon. Researchers studied the cases of 24 men who'd had cancer somewhere else first (it had spread to their colon). I don't know how applicable it will be to your dad's case. So, as with most information, take this with a grain of salt.

In this particular study, 18 men received a colon resection. Different men had different stages of melanoma; the study mixed the survival results together. Of the men who received a resection, 37% were alive one year later; 21% were alive five years later.

Remember: this is just one study and it only discusses one treatment option. You can read about more treatment options for colon cancer in general, in the article Colon Cancer Treatment Options.

3) Have you found a particular doctor who has dealt with melanoma of the colon more successfully than others?

No, sorry. I haven't.

My last bit of advice is to continue communicating with your dad's doctors. As you and your dad learn more specifics about his illness, you should have an easier time finding information about it. Please remember that we're here, too. Good luck to you and your dad.

Please remember that I am not a medical professional. I offer my input as a neighbor, a friend, sitting at the kitchen table talking about what's on your mind and trying to help if I can. This is not medical advice. Please don't consider it medical advice or pass it on to others as medical advice. Thanks.

Sources

Barth, A. and Wanek, L.A. "Prognostic Factors in 1,521 Melanoma Patients with Distant Metastases." Journal of the American College of Surgeons 181.3 (Sep. 1995): 193-201. PubMed. 21 Jun. 2006 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7670677&dopt=Abstract].

Blecker, D. and Abraham, S. "Melanoma in the Gastrointestinal Tract." The American Journal of Gastroenterology 94.12 (Dec. 1999) 3427-3433. PubMed. 21 Jun. 2006 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10606298&dopt=Abstract].

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