A Systematic Review of Surgical Management of Melanoma of the External Ear

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Background:Historically, external ear melanomas have been treated aggressively, due to early perceptions suggesting they had poor prognosis and aggressive biological behavior. More recent evidence has not supported these notions.Methods:We completed a complete review of the literature involving malignant melanoma of the external ear. We then completed a quantitative analysis on seventy-three cases from 8 reports that contained case-level data, assessing factors that influence recurrence, and assessing characteristics of the melanomas based on histological subtype. Baseline and outcomes data for all 20 studies were then compiled but not statistically evaluated.Results:In our subanalysis, patients who had recurrence were significantly more likely to have had wedge resection versus wide-local excision, and those with no recurrence were more likely to have undergone wide local excision. Nodular tumors had significantly greater thickness. Overall, conservative excisions provided excellent outcomes.Conclusions:Conservative treatment for external ear melanoma produces satisfactory outcomes. There is no evidence to support the use of radical amputation and little evidence to support the removal of cartilage or perichondrium. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is warranted only with positive nodes. There is no role for elective neck dissection. The roles for chemo/radiation therapy are unclear and guidelines for other cutaneous melanomas should be followed.

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