Melanomas are a malignant proliferation of melanocytes. The disease vitiligo is a manifestation of a pathologic destruction of melanocytes. That the two diseases should occur together in the same patient seems to be an enigma. Why should some melanocytes in a given patient proliferate without control and metastasize while others are being destroyed? Yet the two diseases commonly have been associated (extensive bibliographies are provided in the reference sections of the articles in references 1 and 2). It seems that individuals with melanomas who also have vitiligolike depigmentation survive longer than patients with melanomas alone.1,2 It has been suggested that chemically induced depigmentation of patients with a high-risk melanoma (ie, thick Breslow or Clark levels) before metastases occurred would lessen the probability of recurrence or at least prolong the time before metastases were detectable.3
Two sets of investigators have studied "large groups" of patients; 51 patients in the
Nordlund JJ. Hypopigmentation, Vitiligo, and Melanoma: New Data, More Enigmas. Arch Dermatol. 1987;123(8):1005–1008. doi:10.1001/archderm.1987.01660320047009
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