Leukemia Cutis; Skin Lesions & Treatment Options

Leukemia is an uncontrollable proliferation of white blood cells due to an abnormality in the bone marrow. It is also known as cancer of the white blood cells. When there is abnormal production of the white blood cells (leukocytes) they proliferate too much and are everywhere. Some of these cells infiltrate into layers of the skin, either the epidermis, dermis or the subcutaneous tissue. This infiltration of white blood cells in the skin results in variable cutaneous lesions. This pathology is called Leukemia cutis.

These lesions can be papules or nodules, but they can also be filled with skin cells and look harder. The term leukemia is used in a broader aspect, but when we look at it more deeply there are different types depending on the precursor cells involved. The infiltrated cells can be members of the myeloid series or the lymphoid series, and leukemia cutis is commonly seen at a late phase of the disease, as a manifestation of the systemic nature of leukemia. Leukemia cutis has got a poor prognosis, usually because it manifests at the last stage of a systemic leukemia and occurs along with involvement of other organs as well, where infiltration of leukocytes has taken place.

Signs and symptoms

Leukemia cutis is a manifestation of leukemia. Thus, the majority of symptoms are the same, except for the skin changes. Patients with leukemia may report the symptoms listed below. In the list, you will also find the characteristic features of leukemia cutis lesions explained in detail:

  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Frequent or severe nosebleeds
  • Lumps caused by swollen lymph nodes in and around the neck, underarm, abdomen or groin
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness, fatigue or a general decrease in energy
  • CNS involvement- seizures, facial nerve palsies.
  • Hepatosplenomegaly