Canis ISSN: 2398-2942


Synonym(s): Malignant melanoma

Contributor(s): Laura Garrett, David Scarff, Isabelle Desmas-Bazelle


  • Common in skin, digit and oral cavity, less common in iris and ciliary body of eye.
  • Diagnosis: cytology, histopathology.
  • Treatment: surgical resection +/- radiotherapy +/- chemotherapy +/- immunotherapy.
  • Prognosis: majority of skin melanomas are benign, as are iris and ciliary body melanomas (melanocytomas).
  • Melanomas of digits and oral cavity are malignant (malignant melanomas).
Follow the management tree for Management of cutaneous melanoma.



  • Melanocytomas may become secondarily infected or hemorrhagic after a trauma.
  • Malignant melanomas frequently metastasize to local and distant sites.


  • Benign usually grow slowly.
  • Malignant grow quickly and secondary spread develops early.
  • Metastatic rate has been reported to be up to 80% for oral melanoma, 32-40% for digit melanoma Digit: neoplasia.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Dank G, Rassnick K M, Sokolovsky Y, Garrett L D, Post G S, Kitchell B E, Sellon R K, Kleiter M, Northrup N, Segev G (2014) Use of adjuvant carboplatin for treatment of dogs with oral malignant melanoma following surgical excision. Vet Comp Oncol 12 (1), 78-84 PubMed.
  • Tuohy J L, Selmic L E, Worley D R, Ehrhart N P, Withrow S J (2014) Outcome following curative-intent surgery for oral melanoma in dogs: 70 cases (1998–2011). J Am Vet Med Assoc 245 (11), 1266-1273 PubMed.
  • Brockley L K, Cooper M A, Bennett P F (2013) Malignant melanoma in 63 dogs (2001–2011): the effect of carboplatin chemotherapy on survival.  N Z Vet J 61 (1), 25-31 PubMed.
  • Ottnod J M, Smedley R C, Walshaw R, Hauptman J G, Kiupel M, Obradovich J E (2013) A retrospective analysis of the efficacy of Oncept vaccine for the adjunct treatment of canine oral malignant melanoma. Vet Comp Oncol 11 (3), 219-29 PubMed.
  • Grosenbaugh D A, Leard T, Bergman P J, Klein M K, Meleo K, Susaneck S et al (2011) Safety and efficacy of a xenogeneic DNA vaccine encoding for human tyrosinase as adjunctive treatment for oral malignant melanoma in dogs following surgical excision of the primary tumor. Am J Vet Res 72 (12), 1631-1638 PubMed.
  • Manley C A, Leibman N F, Wolchok J D, Riviere I C, Bartido S, Craft D M, Bergman P J (2011) Xenogeneic Murine Tyrosinase DNA Vaccine for Malignant Melanoma of the Digit of Dogs. J Vet Intern Med 25 (1), 94-99 PubMed.
  • Smedley R C, Spangler W L, Esplin D G, Kitchell B E, Bergman P J, Ho H-Y, Bergin I L, Kiupel M (2011) Prognostic Markers for Canine Melanocytic Neoplasms: A Comparative Review of the Literature and Goals for Future Investigation. Vet Pathol 48 (1), 54-72 PubMed.
  • Bergman P J (2007) Canine Oral Melanoma. Clin Tech Small Anim Pract 22 (2), 55-60 PubMed.
  • Murphy S, Hayes A M, Blackwood L, Maglennon G, Pattinson H, Sparkes A H (2005) Oral malignant melanoma – the effect of coarse fractionation radiotherapy alone or with adjuvant carboplatin therapy. Vet Comp Oncology 3 (4), 222–229 PubMed.
  • Rassnick K M, Ruslander D M, Cotter S M et al (2001) Use of carboplatin for treatment of dogs with malignant melanoma - 27 cases (1989-2000). J Am Vet Med Assoc 218 (9), 1444-1448 PubMed.
  • Ramos-Vara J A, Beissenherz M E, Miller M A et al (2000) Retrospective study of 338 canine oral melanomas with clinical, histologic, and immunohistochemical review of 129 cases. Vet Pathol 37 (6), 597-608 PubMed.
  • Roels S, Tilmant K & Ducatelle R (1999) PCNA and Ki67 proliferation markers as criteria for prediction of clinical behavior of melanocytic tumors in cats and dogs. J Comp Pathol 121 (1), 13-24 PubMed.
  • Blackwood L & Dobson J M (1996) Radiotherapy of oral malignant melanomas in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 209 (1), 98-102 PubMed.
  • Bateman K E, Catton P A, Pennock P W & Kruth S A (1994) 0-7-21 radiation therapy for the treatment of canine oral melanoma. J Vet Intern Med (4), 267-272 PubMed.