What is Carcinoma Erysipeloides?
Carcinoma erysipeloides is a rare type of cutaneous metastasis where the cancer cells spread through the superficial dermal lymphatic vessels to the skin. Carcinoma erysipeloides is a condition where there is metastasization of the cancer cells to the skin through the lymphatic system.
What are the Causes of Carcinoma Erysipeloides?
Carcinoma erysipeloides is actually spreading of the cancer cells to the skin from the primary tumor site via the lymphatic system. The common cause of carcinoma erysipeloides is underlying adenocarcinoma and commonly adenocarcinoma of the breast. Carcinoma erysipeloides is most often associated with breast cancer; however, rarely can occur with melanoma, thyroid, parotid, lung, larynx, fallopian tube, ovary, cervix, colon, pancreas, prostate and stomach cancer. In rare cases, carcinoma erysipeloides can develop as an initial indication of cancer.
Carcinoma erysipeloides also commonly develops after cancer treatment, such as surgery to remove the cancer, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It is considered that cancer treatments can cause shedding of the cancer cells via the lymphatics towards the skin, which results in carcinoma erysipeloides.
If carcinoma erysipeloides develops after surgery is done to excise the primary tumor, then appearance of carcinoma erysipeloides in such cases can also be an indication of recurrence of the cancer or tumor.
What are the Symptoms of Carcinoma Erysipeloides?
The symptoms of Carcinoma Erysipeloides consist of development of an area of red and thickened skin, which looks a lot like cellulitis. Tenderness is commonly present; however, symptoms can also be absent in carcinoma erysipeloides. Patient does not have fever with carcinoma erysipeloides. The common site of carcinoma erysipeloides is the chest. Carcinoma erysipeloides can occur within a scar, on the arm or rarely on the neck and head region. If the patient has breast cancer, then there can also be involvement of the other breast in carcinoma erysipeloides.
The margins of the patch or the plaque of carcinoma erysipeloides is clearly demarcated with red, swollen and raised edges because of blockage in the lymphatic vessels from the cancer cells and also due to release of cytokines.
Carcinoma erysipeloides commonly develops near the site of the primary tumor and is actually a result of the lymphatic spread of the cancer cells from the primary tumor. Common signs which indicate spreading of the cancer to the skin are:
- Development of a nodule, which is oval or round in shape and is firm and mobile. Patient does not have any pain in this nodule.
- Patient has development of Carcinoma telangiectodes where there are red patches seen with multiple blood vessels or lymphatic vessels from infiltration of cancer cells.
- There is Carcinoma en cuirasse, which is a firm plaque formed from infiltration of the cancer cells into the collagen.
How is the Diagnosis of Carcinoma Erysipeloides Made?
It can be difficult to diagnose carcinoma erysipeloides and there can be delay in diagnosing this condition. This is because carcinoma erysipeloides looks similar to other conditions such as erysipelas, cellulitis or radiation dermatitis. To confirm the diagnosis of carcinoma erysipeloides, a punch biopsy is done of the affected skin which microscopically reveals the cancer cells present inside cutaneous lymphatics.
What is the Treatment for Carcinoma Erysipeloides?
Treatment of carcinoma erysipeloides consists of palliative treatment with the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in hopes of regressing this condition. Surgery is not an option for removing carcinoma erysipeloides.
What is the Prognosis & Life Expectancy of Patients with Carcinoma Erysipeloides?
Patients having carcinoma erysipeloides have quite a poor prognosis. The average life expectancy with carcinoma erysipelmoides is about 2 years after the diagnosis.
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