Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Textbook Case

A 76 year old woman presented to the dermatologist with a four month history of darkening of the skin of her neck, axillae, inframammary areas and groin. She had vague G.I. symptoms and had seen her primary care doctor around four times with these complaints. Although her abdomen was "bloated" she'd lost 5 - 10 pounds over the past month. Her sister had died of pancreatic cancer. (Her daughter who works at a neurosurgery office had tried to get her seen by a dermatologist but none had time. It took two months to get her seen at my office which I see as a personal failure)

The patient is a pleasant outgoing woman who appears about her stated age. She has velvety hyperpigmentation of her skin folds.

In addition, she has developed around 10 verrucous tumors measuring 8 - 10 mm in diameter on arms and legs. One of these was biopsied.

A C.T. scan performed on the day of the dermatology visit revealed what appeared to be metastatic tumors in the peritoneum. The workup is in progress.

Most cases of acanthosis nigricans (AN) are benign and related to ethnicity, obesity or endocrinopathy. AN developing in an elderly individual should be a red light to pursue a work-up for malignancy. AN is an easy diagnosis to make and a four month delay in diagnosis is unfortunate. In all likelihood, this tumor had metastasized before the AN became manifest, but it seems unfortunate that the delay in diagnosis occurred.

A good review of AN can be found on eMedicine.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments. We endeavor to serve your patients and you. If you want us to respond, please add your name and email address. Some people have trouble uploading comments. In that case, please send comments directly to Thank you.