Review Article Cerebral Melanoma Metastases: A Critical Review on Diagnostic Methods and Therapeutic Options

Abstract

Copyright © 2011 Carlos R. Goulart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Malignant melanoma represents the third most common cause for cerebral metastases after breast and lung cancer. Central nervous system (CNS) metastases occur in 10 to 40 % of patients with melanoma. Most of the symptoms of CNS melanoma metastases are unspecific and depend on localization of the lesion. All patients with new neurological signs and a previous primary melanoma lesion must be investigated. Although primary diagnosis may rely on computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance images are usually used in order to study more precisely the characteristics of the lesions in and to embase the surgical plan. Other possible complementary exams are: positron emission tomography, iofetamine cintilography, immunohistochemistry of liquor, monoclonal antibody immunocytology, optical coherence tomography, and transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Treatment procedures are indicated based on patient clinical status, presence of unique or multiple lesions, and family agreement. Often surgery, radiosurgery, whole brain radiotherapy, and chemotherapy are combined in order to obtain longer remissions and optimal symptom relieve. Corticoids may be also useful in those cases that present with remarkable peritumoral edema and important mass effect. Despite of the advance in therapeutic options, prognosis for patients with melanoma brain metastases remains poor with a median survival time of six months after diagnosis. 1

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