Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy in childhood malignancy

Med Pediatr Oncol. 1993;21(9):676-9. doi: 10.1002/mpo.2950210913.


Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (HOA), well known in adults, is rarely encountered in children. The clinical features include clubbing of the fingers and toes, arthritis, and a sometimes painful ossifying periostitis of the tubular bones. Apart from a hereditary form (primary HOA), most of the cases encountered in children are secondary and associated with conditions such as chronic suppurative lung processes (e.g., cystic fibrosis), congenital heart disease, biliary atresia, and polyposis coli. The association with malignant disorders, which is relatively common in adults, is very rare in children. In 1986 the authors published a case report of a patient with carcinoma of the nasopharynx who developed HOA. Another similar patient has been encountered. In both, the appearance of HOA was associated with a very poor prognosis. A meticulous research of the literature from 1890 to 1990 revealed only 24 children (19 boys, 5 girls) under the age of 18, with malignancy and associated HOA. Among them were 10 patients with a carcinoma of the nasopharynx, 8 with osteosarcoma, 3 with Hodgkin's lymphoma, 1 with a periosteal sarcoma, 1 with mesothelioma of the pleura, and 1 with carcinoma of the thymus. In five patients with HOA, there were no abnormalities of the lungs, mediastinum, or pleura, and none developed during the course of the disease. Many authors mention the predictive value of HOA, especially in association with malignant tumors. In contrast to suppurative processes in the lungs, in those with neoplastic disease involving the chest, HOA may precede pulmonary symptoms by 1-18 months. A striking feature of HOA in these instances is the reversibility of the complaints after successful treatment of the disorder of the chest, both in benign and malignant conditions. The present case is the second reported by the authors and the first description of a girl with carcinoma of the nasopharynx developing HOA.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / complications*
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Osteoarthropathy, Secondary Hypertrophic / complications*