Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes

Semin Diagn Pathol. 2019 Jul;36(4):211-228. doi: 10.1053/j.semdp.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


A variety of cutaneous abnormalities can be seen in patients with malignant diseases, some of which are infectious, with others representing direct involvement of the skin by the underlying disorder. Yet another group of lesions can be regarded as associated markers of the malignant process, and, as such, are termed "paraneoplastic." This review considers the latter collection of conditions, grouping them by the generic type of malignancy that is usually linked to the paraneoplasia. Some of the processes show a predominant association with alimentary tract malignancies (acanthosis nigricans, acrodermatitis paraneoplastica, florid cutaneous papillomatosis, necrolytic migratory erythema, palmoplantar keratoderma, pancreatic fat necrosis, and pityriasis rotunda). Others are usually linked to a hematolymphoid malignancy (acquired ichthyosis, exfoliative erythroderma, necrobiotic xanthogranuloma, pemphigus paraneoplastica, plane xanthoma, pyoderma gangrenosum, scleromyxedema, Sweet syndrome, and leukocytoclastic vasculitis). Finally, yet another collection of paraneoplastic skin disorders can associate themselves with anatomically-diverse malignancies (Leser-Trelat syndrome, Trousseau syndrome, dermatomyositis, erythema gyratum repens, hypertrichosis lanuginosa acquisita, papuloerythroderma of Ofuji, tripe palms, and multicentric reticulohistiocytosis). Recognition of these processes by the pathologist can be a valuable step in the characterization of underlying malignant diseases.

Keywords: Non-neoplastic disorders in cancer patients; Paraneoplastic conditions; Skin diseases accompanying malignancies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / pathology*
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology*