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Resource Library: Melanoma of the Digit, Canine

Digital melanoma (malignant melanoma of the digit) occurs in older dogs with no gender predilection known. It is a tumor that arises from the melanocytes (pigment cells) of the epithelium of the nail or nailbed.

The tumors are usually solitary, ulcerative, occasionally hemorrhagic, and fast growing. The associated nail may be fractured or absent altogether.

Melanoma of the digit has a moderate metastatic (spread to other areas) potential. Distant metastasis to the lungs occurs in one third to one half of patients.

Complete surgical excision is considered to be the treatment of choice. This is usually accomplished by amputation of the affected digit. If complete margins are not possible with surgery, radiation therapy to the local site may be recommended.

The median survival time for patients with malignant melanoma of the digit is 12 months. A melanoma vaccine will usually be recommended after surgery to minimize the opportunity for metastatic lesions to develop or progress.

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