Cutaneous markers of internal malignancy
Skin changes can often be the first sign of a deeper problem including an internal malignancy. Signs of skin disease may precede, occur with, or follow the detection of an associated cancer. These skin diseases can be a feature of an undiagnosed cancer and may be the prompt for a thorough examination in patients. Or in a patient whose cancer is in remission, these skin diseases may be the initial sign of the cancer recurring.
Cutaneous markers can be classified into 2 major types:
- Genetically determined syndromes with a cutaneous component (genodermatoses) that predispose at risk individuals to develop cancer
- Paraneoplastic syndromes which occur as a result of circulating factor(s) or presumed factors produced by the underlying cancer
Skin diseases that come under the group of genodermatoses include:
- Cowden's disease
- Gardner syndrome
- Gorlin's syndrome
- Multiple endocrine neoplasm type 2B
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Torre-Muir syndrome
- Progeria (premature aging syndromes)
Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes can be categorised according to the type of lesion they produce.
- Book: Textbook of Dermatology. Ed Rook A, Wilkinson DS, Ebling FJB, Champion RH, Burton JL. Fourth edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications.
On DermNet NZ:
- Paraneoplastic Diseases – Medscape Reference
Books about skin diseases:
See the DermNet NZ bookstore