Cutaneous recurrence of malignant melanoma is distressing for the patient, can be difficult to palliate and is resistant to treatment by conventional methods. Experience with carbon dioxide laser ablation was reviewed to determine the initial efficacy, time to recurrence, number of treatments required and length of palliation achieved.Methods
Using a departmental database and case notes, a review was carried out of all patients undergoing laser ablation in the authors' unit between September 1992 August 2002.Results
Forty-two patients received 105 (mean 2·5) treatments. The median time to recurrence was 5·2 (range 1·2–72·0) months. Twenty-three patients were still alive, with a median time from first laser ablation of 5·4 (range 0·5–10·0) years. Nineteen patients had died, a median of 0·8 (range 0·1–5·3) years after the first ablation. Ten of the 23 patients were disease-free for more than 1 year. No limbs were amputated because of failure to control disease.Conclusion
Laser ablation is a practical and useful method of palliating recurrent cutaneous malignant melanoma.