How do the symptoms of pruritus vary among different malignancies?

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

The symptoms of pruritus may differ in patients with lymphoma compared with symptoms in patients with carcinoma. Pruritus due to carcinoma results in moderate-to-severe itching with changes in intensity and location over the course of the disease. Common sites are the extensor surfaces of the upper extremities and the anterior surfaces of the lower legs. Pruritus of the nostrils has been associated with brain tumors.

Pruritus due to lymphoma may precede the diagnosis by 5 years. It is most common in patients with Hodgkin disease (nodular sclerosing subtype). The pruritus is described as intolerable, continuous, and severe and is accompanied by a burning sensation. It may begin on the lower extremities and progress to the whole body. If localized, the pruritus is commonly present in the areas drained by the lymphatics affected in the disease process.

Leukemic pruritus is usually generalized at onset and is less severe than that related to lymphoma.


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