What is the role of malignancy in the pathogenesis of pruritus?

Updated: Mar 03, 2020
  • Author: David F Butler, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

Numerous reports have linked pruritus to almost every type of malignancy. Release of toxins and the immune system have been suggested to play roles in malignancy-related pruritus.

Chronic pruritus without associated skin changes is a risk factor for having undiagnosed hematologic and biliary tract malignancies, but not other malignancies. [17]

In patients with Hodgkin disease, leukopeptidase and bradykinin appear to be the pruritogenic mediators released as an autoimmune response is mounted against malignant lymphoid cells.

Carcinoid syndrome may be associated with pruritus triggered by serotonin.

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma may cause intractable pruritus and may have the cytokine interleukin 31 as a mediator of itching. [18]


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