INTRODUCTION: Anorectal melanoma (ARM) is a rare disease with a poor prognosis. There is no consensus as to the optimal primary surgical treatment for ARM, with advocates for both radical (abdominoperineal resection [APR]) and conservative strategies (wide local excision [WLE]). Here, we report a systematic review of studies comparing outcomes between these strategies.
METHODS: Studies comparing APR with WLE in patients with ARM were included, and a systematic review using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation methodology was performed. Outcomes deemed critical included overall survival, disease-free survival, local recurrence and quality of life.
RESULTS: Forty studies were identified, of which 27 were suitable for inclusion. Twenty-three studies compared overall survival between WLE and APR, with no difference in outcomes noted (risk ratio [RR]: 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.60-1.07, p = 0.13). Seven studies compared disease-free survival, with no difference in outcomes noted (RR: 1.08, 95% CI: 0.61-1.91, p = 0.79). A total of 19 studies compared local recurrence rates, with again no significant difference in outcomes noted (RR: 0.71, 95% CI: 0.44-1.14, p = 0.16). None of the studies identified reported quality of life-related outcomes.
CONCLUSION: There is no evidence to suggest that a radical primary surgical strategy improves outcomes in ARM. Therefore, given the well-documented morbidity associated with APR, WLE with regular surveillance for local recurrence should be the primary strategy in most patients.