Cutaneous metastasis: a meta-analysis of data

South Med J. 2003 Feb;96(2):164-7. doi: 10.1097/01.SMJ.0000053676.73249.E5.


Background: Previous studies of the incidence and the most common causes of cutaneous metastasis have not led to a consensus. We compiled data from many retrospective studies and from patient data registries and autopsies to increase the total number of cases available for a larger analysis of this subject. This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the true incidence of cutaneous metastasis, the tumors most commonly involved in this presentation, and the locations of such lesions.

Methods: A meta-analysis of cutaneous metastases from patient tumor registries and autopsic studies was performed.

Results: The overall incidence of cutaneous metastasis is 5.3%. The most common tumor to metastasize to the skin is breast cancer. The chest is the most common site of cutaneous metastasis. Every practitioner should be highly suspicious of acute-onset, persistent, firm papulonodules, especially when they develop on the chest.

Conclusion: This meta-analysis greatly increases the total number of cases available for the analysis of cutaneous metastases and provides a better overall view of this topic than was previously possible.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology*