A salmon-colored background and prominent serpentine blood vessels are two characteristic features of primary cutaneous B-cell lymphoma (PCBCL) that can be identified dermoscopically and may aid diagnosis, researchers say.

In the January issue of the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, researchers reported the results of a retrospective observational study using the dermoscopic images of 58 biopsy-confirmed primary cutaneous B-cell lymphoma lesions in 51 patients.

While all the lesions were nonpigmented, 46 (79.3%) of them showed salmon- or yellow- to orange- colored background areas. More than three-quarters of the lesions also featured prominent blood vessels (77.6%), the majority of which were serpentine in nature.

Just over half of the PCBCL lesions (55%) featured both a salmon-colored background and serpentine blood vessels, while only 8.6% of the lesions showed neither feature.

Of the 58 lesions, the authors selected 17 to be evaluated by two dermoscopy experts who were blinded to the diagnosis. In 70.6% of these cases they included cutaneous B-cell lymphoma in the differential diagnosis, while other diagnoses included spider bite (58.8%), basal cell carcinoma (52.9%), amelanotic melanoma (47.1%), and scar/keloid (47.1%). Overall, the two experts did not agree on almost 30% of the suggested differential diagnoses.

“The presentation of cutaneous lymphomas in general and of PCBCLs in particular can be nonspecific, and a biopsy is essential for a definitive diagnosis,” wrote Shamir Geller, MD , of the dermatology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and his coauthors.

The 58 PCBCLs analyzed were among 172 biopsy-proven PCBCL lesions in the study, which were newly diagnosed and whose pathology reports included the clinical differential diagnosis in the pathology requisition slip, in patients referred to the cancer center between 1992 and 2016. In only 16.3% of these cases, the clinician suspected cutaneous lymphoma. Skin malignancies were suspected in 54.7% of cases, with the leading diagnosis being basal cell carcinoma in 17.4% of cases. Basal cell carcinoma was considered in nearly one-third of lesions, particularly those on the head and neck.

Nonneoplastic conditions suspected by clinicians included cyst in 21.5% of cases, granulomatous processes in 15.7%, and infectious disease in 4.7%.

The authors commented that a low index of suspicion for skin lymphoma was seen regardless of the subtype or site.

“While dermoscopy offers a bridge between the naked eye examination and the histopathological appearance, cutaneous lymphoma is diagnosed on a cellular level using histopathology, immunohistochemistry and molecular studies,” they wrote. “Therefore, dermoscopy may serve as an ancillary tool in PCBCL; however, it cannot be diagnostic.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Cancer Center. Dr. Geller is a recipient of a grant from the American Physicians and Friends For Medicine in Israel. No conflicts of interest were declared.

SOURCE: Geller S et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Jan;32(1):53-6 .


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