Leukemia cutis C95.9

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 13.11.2021

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Leukosis; Myeloblastic leukemia

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Leukemia is a diffuse autonomous proliferation of a leukocyte species. The expansion of a malignant cell clone leads to a generalized spread in the hematopoietic bone marrow and, in addition, to a possible infiltration of extramedullary organs, including the skin, as well as to an exudation of leukemic cells into the blood.

Leukaemia cutis is the term used to describe specific infiltrates of the skin in the various leukaemias, irrespective of their provenance.

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3 disease groups are distinguished (frequencies according to the American Cancer Society)

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Clonal growths of the leukopoietic, myeloid or lymphatic system.

Clinical features
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In clinical practice, specific skin changes are observed mainly in the following forms of leukemia:

Very rare are specific cutaneous involvement in chronic myeloid le ukemia (CML). Their occurrence may indicate a blast relapse of CML. This is also true for acute lymphoblastic leukemia(ALL).

More common are non-specific skin changes. These can occur in almost all forms of leukemia. Viral, bacterial and mycotic infections are triggered by the consequences of the onset of immunosuppression. Increasingly, also ADRs caused by chemotherapeutic agents, monoclonal antibodies and other targeted tumor therapeutics are becoming the focus of dermatological attention.

Dermatological symptoms due to specific skin infiltrates are usually observed after the clinical diagnosis has been made, rarely as a primary manifestation of the disease.

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia:
  • Myeloid leukemias:
    • Specific skin manifestations (relatively rare): Squamous to nodular infiltrations of the skin.
    • Nonspecific skin lesions: pallor in secondary anemia, hemorrhages in skin and mucosa with tendency to ulcerative-necrotic transformation, especially in acute myeloid leukemia; generalized pruritus, prurigo simplex subacuta, macular, nodular, figured erythema; erythrosquamous or vesiculobullous eruptions; very rarely universal nonspecific erythroderma.
  • Immature cell leukemias (myelo- or paramyeloblastic leukemia)
    :Thrombopenic purpura, formation of necrosis with tendency to decay in the oral cavity, genital and anal areas (due to accompanying agranulocytosis), candidiasis of the mucous membranes, gingival hyperplasia, possibly generalized lymph node enlargement.

See also skin changes in myeloproliferative neoplasms.

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Blood count, sample excision with histology and immunohistology, chromosome analysis (in chronic lymphatic leukemia in approx. 90% Philadelphia chromosome).

Differential diagnosis
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Eruption of lymphocyte recovery: An "eruption of lymphocyte recovery" (ELR) is a pseudotumor-like reaction of the skin that can occur 1-2 weeks after aggressive myeloablative polychemotherapy (Hurabielle Cet al. 2018).

Primary cutaneous B- and T-cell lymphomas

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Treatment of the underlying disease. Treatment of skin lesions depending on the clinic.

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Cutaneous specific infiltration in the setting of a hematologic neoplasm is generally indicative of advanced disease and should prompt examination of other body sites for extramedullary involvement. However, in rare cases, cutaneous lesions may present as the primary manifestation of systemic hematologic disease (Robak E et al. 2021).

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  1. Chen VM et al (2003) Extramedullary presentation of acute leukaemia: a case of myeloid/natural killer cell precursor leukaemia. Pathology 35: 325-329
  2. Damian D et al (2003) Demodex infestation in a child with leukaemia: treatment with ivermectin and permethrin. Int J Dermatol 42: 724-726
  3. Hill A, Metry D (2003) Urticarial lesions in a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and eosinophilia. Pediatr Dermatol 20: 502-505
  4. Hurabielle Cet al. (2018) Eruption of lymphocyte recovery with atypical lymphocytes mimicking a primary cutaneous T-cell lymphoma: a series of 12 patients. Hum Pathol71:100-108.
  5. Kazakov DV et al (2003) Blastic natural killer-cell lymphoma of the skin associated with myelodysplastic syndrome or myelogenous leukaemia: a coincidence or more? Br J Dermatol 149: 869-876
  6. Katz KA (2003) Disseminated cutaneous granulomatous eruption occurring in the setting of myelodysplasia. Dermatol Online J 9: 22
  7. Levy I et al (2003) Ecthyma gangrenosum caused by disseminated exserohilum in a child with leukemia: a case report and review of the literature. Pediatr Dermatol 20: 495-497
  8. McCollum A et al (2003) Unusual skin lesions in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. South Med J 96: 681-684
  9. Parsi M et al (2021) Leukemia Cutis. 2021 Jul 21. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing PMID: 31082180.
  10. Robak E et al. (2021) Skin changes in hairy cell leukemia. Ann Hematol100: 615-625.
  11. Yang M et al. (2020) Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cell therapy for bone marrow and skin relapse Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore) 99:e18639.
  12. Yagi H et al. (2003) Cutaneous type of adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma: a new entity among cutaneous lymphomas. J Dermatol 30: 641-643


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Last updated on: 13.11.2021