Carney complex: the complex of myxomas, spotty pigmentation, endocrine overactivity, and schwannomas

Semin Dermatol. 1995 Jun;14(2):90-8. doi: 10.1016/s1085-5629(05)80003-3.


The complex of myxomas, spotty pigmentation, endocrine overactivity, and schwannomas (the Carney complex) is a multisystem tumorous disorder that is transmitted as a mendelian autosomal dominant trait. Approximately 150 affected patients are known worldwide. The myxomas, which tend to be multiple in the involved organ, affect the heart, skin and breast. Typical sites for the skin myxomas are the eyelids, external ear canal, and nipples. The lesions commonly recur after excision. The spotty skin pigmentation includes lentigines and blue nevi, but ephelides and junctional and compound nevi also occur. The lentigines are widespread and typically involve the centrofacial area, including the vermilion border of the lips, and the conjunctiva, especially the lacrimal caruncle and the conjunctival semilunar fold. One or more intraoral pigmented spots are seen occasionally. The blue nevi occur on the face, trunk, and limbs, but not the hands and feet. Endocrine overactivity includes Cushing's syndrome (caused by primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease), acromegaly (caused by growth hormone-producing pituitary adenoma), and sexual precocity (caused by large-cell calcifying Sertoli cell tumor). The schwannomas are a special histological type, featuring psammoma bodies and melanin. Most commonly, they affect the upper gastrointestinal tract and sympathetic nerve chains, but a few have occurred in the skin. The most serious component of the Carney complex is cardiac myxoma. Patients suspected of having the syndrome (and their primary relatives) should be examined for this neoplasm.

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine System Diseases* / genetics
  • Endocrine System Diseases* / pathology
  • Female
  • Heart Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Heart Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation* / genetics
  • Hyperpigmentation* / pathology
  • Lentigo
  • Male
  • Myxoma* / genetics
  • Myxoma* / pathology
  • Neurilemmoma* / genetics
  • Neurilemmoma* / pathology
  • Nevus, Pigmented
  • Pedigree
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Syndrome