This paper reports on 16 cases of primary malignant melanoma of the external ear and the patients were followed up for two to 116 months. Fourteen patients had surgical excision with wide margins as initial treatment, whilst two had an amputation performed. Eleven patients had no recurrences, two died of other diseases, and four died of malignant melanoma. The five patients who developed recurrences received further surgery and two also radiotherapy.
Seven of the cases were histologically of the nodular type, six were superficial spreading, two were in situ melanoma, and one was a lentigo maligna. The thickness ranged from 0.15 to 11.5 mm. Classification according to Clark et al. (1969) revaled that as many as nine cases were Clark level IV or more. Immunostaining with PCNA yielded strong positivity in all cases, however, statistical analysis did not reveal any differences that could be correlated to the prognosis. Estimation of the vascularization at the base of the tumours by means of immunostaining with CD31 did not reveal any significant differences either.
We concluded that in our material the thickness of the tumour is of greater prognostic value than the estimation of proliferation by PCNA and vascularization by CD31. The value of PCNA and CD31 as possible prognostic parameters needs to be evaluated in a larger series. It is emphasized that malignant melanoma of the external ear is a highly malignant tumour, and that four of our 16 patients died of their disease, three of them within a year after diagnosis. Malignant melanoma of the external ear is readily inspected and thereby an early diagnosis should be possible.