Cutaneous Signs and Syndromes Associated With Internal Malignancies

Claudia C. Ramirez, MD; Brian Berman, MD, PhD


Skinmed. 2005;4(2):84-92. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Cutaneous changes may indicate the presence of or herald the incipient development of internal malignancies. The authors review 24 cutaneous signs, symptoms, diseases, and syndromes associated with internal malignancies. Early recognition of these cutaneous changes may allow for vigilance for, and prompt detection and management of, the underlying neoplasm.

Internal malignancies may manifest in the skin directly as metastases or indirectly as syndromes produced by humoral secretions elaborated by the tumor (e.g., glucagonoma syndrome and carcinoid syndrome); signs resulting from compromise of an affected organ (e.g.,jaundice and vascular occlusion); or be associated, for unknown reasons, with inflammatory and proliferative dermatoses (e.g., Sweet's syndrome, paraneoplastic pemphigus, and pyoderma gangrenosum).

The skin lesions may precede, be concurrent, or follow the detection of the associated cancer. Of greatest value are skin changes that appear before or herald the early development of a cancer and allow early diagnosis of the associated neoplasm. In this paper we review, in alphabetical order, many of the signs and syndromes associated with internal cancers.