This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Digestive system melanoma refers to a melanoma starting in the stomach, intestines, salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or rectum. Melanoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the melanocytes. Melanocytes are commonly found in the skin and are the cells that give the skin color. While it is not uncommon for melanomas to start in the skin and later spread to other parts of the body (metastasize), melanomas originating in the gastrointestinal tract are rare. The most frequently reported site is in the esophagus and anorectum. Symptoms of a digestive system melanoma may be nonspecific, including blood in the stool, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and anemia (low red blood cell count). The cause of digestive system melanoma is not well understood. Some researchers theorize that it may have originated from an undetected primary tumor. Treatment may include surgical excision of the gastrointestinal tract involved, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
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