Adult and Pediatric Nail Unit Melanoma: Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Author Type(s)


Document Type

Review Article

Publication Date


Journal Title



Nail unit melanoma (NUM) is an uncommon form of melanoma and is often diagnosed at later stages. Approximately two-thirds of NUMs are present clinically as longitudinal melanonychia, but longitudinal melanonychia has a broad differential diagnosis. Clinical examination and dermoscopy are valuable for identifying nail findings concerning malignancy, but a biopsy with histopathology is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of NUM. Surgical treatment options for NUM include en bloc excision, digit amputation, and Mohs micrographic surgery. Newer treatments for advanced NUM include targeted and immune systemic therapies. NUM in pediatric patients is extremely rare and diagnosis is challenging since both qualitative and quantitative parameters have only been studied in adults. There is currently no consensus on management in children; for less concerning melanonychia, some physicians recommend close follow-up. However, some dermatologists argue that the "wait and see" approach can cause delayed diagnosis. This article serves to enhance the familiarity of NUM by highlighting its etiology, clinical presentations, diagnosis, and treatment options in both adults and children.