Malignant melanoma involving the gastrointestinal tract is diagnosed antemortem in only a small percentage of patients with the disease. Presenting symptoms are often non-specific, causing a diagnostic problem. The vast majority of such melanomas are metastatic from a cutaneous primary, however there is evidence that the tumour can arise de novo in the gastrointestinal system. We report a 74-year-old man with malignant melanoma with an unusual presentation simulating a symptomatic gastric ulcer. He presented with epigastric pain, haematemesis and melaena. Explorative laparotomy revealed a large ulcerated tumour with several pigmented satellite nodules in the proximal stomach, multiple ileal nodules and widespread nodal and liver metastases. Proximal gastrectomy and limited small bowel resection was performed. Histology revealed the tumour to be composed of nests of epithelioid cells with melanin pigment. The tumour cells showed immunohistochemical positivity for S100 protein and HMB45 antibodies. This report emphasizes that melanoma should be a diagnostic consideration in patients with gastric ulcer.
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