A series of 256 consecutive cases of invasive primary conjunctival malignant melanomas was examined to identify clinical and histopathological prognostic factors. The follow up period varied between 0.3 and 45.9 years (mean 9 years, median 6.3 years). The 5 year survival rate was estimated at 82.9%, the 10 year survival rate at 69.3%. Multiple regression analysis with the Cox proportional hazards model was used to assess sex, age, and a number of baseline features of conjunctival malignant melanoma as possible prognostic factors influencing melanoma related mortality. In assessing each potential prognostic factor, the effects of all other factors were taken into account in the modelling process. Tumours in unfavourable locations--that is, those involving the palpebral conjunctiva, fornices, plica, caruncle, and lid margins, were associated with 2.2 times higher mortality compared with (epi)bulbar melanomas. Patients with mixed cell type tumours had about three times higher mortality compared with those with pure spindle cell melanomas, and histological evidence of lymphatic invasion by tumour cells was also a prognostic feature, carrying a fourfold increase in the death rate. Multifocal tumours were associated with a fivefold increase in mortality among those with tumours in favourable (epi)bulbar locations, but were not prognostic in patients with melanomas in unfavourable sites. The death rate was significantly higher in those with initial tumour thickness of more than 4 mm, but only among patients with unfavourably located melanomas. Sex, age, and clinical origin of the tumour (primary acquired melanosis, pre-existing naevus, or de novo) were not useful prognostic indicators in this study.
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