Penis & scrotum

Other malignancies


Topic Completed: 1 May 2010

Minor changes: 30 June 2021

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Melanoma[TI] penis[TIAB]

Alcides Chaux, M.D.
Antonio L. Cubilla, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 588
Page views in 2021 to date: 661
Cite this page: Chaux A, Cubilla AL. Melanoma. website. Accessed October 23rd, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Relatively rare tumor of penis, similar to counterparts elsewhere
  • ICD-O: 8720 / 3
  • White men ages 50 - 70 years
  • Preferential location is glans (60 - 80%) followed by shaft and foreskin
  • Distal urethra location is exceedingly uncommon and tends to affect the fossa navicularis
  • Risk factors include preexisting nevi, ultraviolet radiation and history of melanomas elsewhere
Clinical features
  • Most common tumor in penis after squamous cell carcinoma but accounts for < 1% of all penile malignant tumors
  • Small, brown to black lesions similar to melanomas elsewhere
  • Ulceration is common
  • Distal urethra melanomas are typically polypoid
  • 50% have inguinal nodal metastases at diagnosis
Prognostic factors
  • Poor prognostic factors: presence of ulceration, tumor depth > 3.5 mm, tumor size (diameter) > 15 mm, nodal or distant metastases (Urology 2007;70:143)
Case reports
Clinical images

AFIP images

Ulcerated dark
mass involves
the prepuce and
coronal sulcus

Images hosted on other servers:

Melanoma in situ

Gross description
  • Flat dark macula, ulcer or black-blue-red nodule with irregular edges
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Radial and vertical growth phases similar to melanoma elsewhere
  • Variegated growth patterns are solid, nested, fusiform or mixed
  • Polygonal neoplastic cells with abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm and marked nuclear atypia
  • Coarse brown intracytoplasmic pigment in most cases
  • Abundant and atypical mitoses
  • Clear, vacuolated, rhabdoid or pleomorphic cells in some cases
  • Preexisting or coexisting melanosis, melanotic nevi (J Cutan Pathol 2009;36:444) or lentiginous melanosis is occasionally found
Microscopic (histologic) images

AFIP images

Deeply invasive nodular tumor of glans

Images hosted on other servers:

Melanoma in situ


Glans with urethral involvement

Positive stains
Differential diagnosis
  • Benign melanocytic neoplasia: maturation present; no nuclear pleomorphism, no pagetoid spread
  • Paget disease: very difficult to distinguish from melanoma morphologically in radial growth phase; positive for MUC1, MUC5AC, CAM 5.2, EMA, CEA and GCDFP-15; negative for melanocytic markers
  • Penile primary sarcoma: no intraepithelial component, no melanin in tumor cells; negative for melanocytic markers
  • Sarcomatoid carcinoma: nests of squamous cells within the tumor, PeIN present, no melanin in tumor cells, positive for pancytokeratin, CK 34 beta E12 and p63; negative for melanocytic markers
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