Malignant melanoma involving the gastrointestinal tract is a common autopsy finding in patients who die with this disease. Melanoma metastatic to bowel infrequently causes symptoms. Some investigators suggest that survival following the onset of gastrointestinal symptoms is very poor and, as a result, surgical intervention to relieve symptoms should be avoided. We reviewed the clinical courses of 15 consecutive patients with symptomatic malignant melanoma of the bowel who underwent resection alone or in combination with bypass of symptomatic intestinal lesions. There were no deaths within 30 days of operation; 14 patients obtained relief of intestinal symptoms; 11 patients survived a mean of 7.9 months; and four patients are alive 2, 7, 22, and 23 months after operation. These results suggest that operations to treat symptomatic intestinal melanoma provide reasonable palliation and survival for patients with this disease.
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