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Cutaneous markers of internal malignancy

Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2004. Updated by Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, January 2016.

What are 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:

Genodermatoses

Skin diseases that come under the group of genodermatoses include:

Paraneoplastic syndromes

Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes can be categorised according to the type of lesion they produce.

PapulosquamousErythematous
BullousMiscellaneous
Paraneoplastic pemphigus

As well as cutaneous signs and symptoms, paraneoplastic syndromes may affect endocrine, neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, haematological, gastrointestinal or renal function.

Paraneoplastic symptoms may be caused by:

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