Ovarian cancer in patients with dermatomyositis

Medicine (Baltimore). 1994 May;73(3):153-60. doi: 10.1097/00005792-199405000-00004.


A consensus regarding adequate screening to detect early malignancy in the setting of dermatomyositis (DMM) has yet to be reached. This issue is particularly relevant with regard to ovarian cancer, as early detection with routine examinations, ultrasound, and abdominal CT may not be successful. Four of 15 women diagnosed with and seen in our department for DMM between 1986 and 1993 were subsequently diagnosed with metastatic papillary serous ovarian carcinoma. One additional patient developed metastatic pelvic papillary adenocarcinoma, believed to be of ovarian origin. These diagnoses of advanced cancer were unexpected, as all women had undergone repeated cancer screenings beyond what is normally recommended for patients with DMM. The 5 women were strikingly similar in their initial presentations and subsequent courses. In each, the diagnosis of DMM was delayed from 2 to 10 months, as they were initially misdiagnosed with a photoinduced or contact dermatitis. All except 1 had severe, recalcitrant skin disease despite attempted therapy with antimalarial and immunosuppressive agents. All 4 patients who survived the postoperative period after tumor debulking showed either improvement or resolution of their DMM. It appears that women with DMM have an increased incidence of ovarian cancer, which is usually diagnosed months to a few years (range, 0 d to 6 y) after DMM has been diagnosed. Although recommendations have been made regarding cancer screening in these individuals, recommendations for initial and surveillance examinations vary from routine history and physical examination to evaluations including extensive radiologic evaluation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / analysis
  • Biopsy
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / complications
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / diagnosis*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / surgery
  • Dermatomyositis / complications
  • Dermatomyositis / diagnosis*
  • Dermatomyositis / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparotomy
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / complications
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Skin Tests


  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate