Cutaneous findings in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia


Dr Karen Agnew, Department of Dermatology, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, U.K.


Background  Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a malignancy characterized by clonal expansion of B lymphocytes with distinct morphology and immunophenotype. The dermatological literature relating to CLL is sparse. A global descriptive survey of a large number of CLL patients has not previously been published.

Objectives  To report the spectrum of dermatological conditions seen in a large series of CLL patients.

Methods  Skin complications in patients with established CLL were identified retrospectively from clinical and photographic records, principally a database of over 750 consecutive cases. These events were classified, enumerated and compared.

Results  Forty patients with 125 skin manifestations were identified and studied. Forty-one manifestations had documented clinical or histological atypia. In 21 of these 41 complications there had been no prior immunosuppressive therapy. We observed that cutaneous malignancies frequently presented atypically both clinically and histologically. There were 18 patients with 56 instances of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and clinical atypia was more common with SCC than with BCC. Other cutaneous findings included varicella zoster (n = 6), leukaemia cutis (n = 3), acute graft-versus-host disease (n = 5), cutaneous drug eruptions (n = 9), multiple warts (n = 3), herpes simplex (n = 3), cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (n = 2), eosinophilic folliculitis (n = 2), malignant melanoma (n = 2) and Merkel cell tumour (n = 2).

Conclusions  We have identified a range of dermatological conditions in CLL patients, with a tendency to atypical presentations. The atypia was independent of prior chemotherapy.