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Subcutaneous Panniculitis-like T Cell Lymphoma Mimicking Early-Onset Nodular Panniculitis

Guifen Shen, Lingli Dong, Shengtao Zhang

(Department of Rheumatology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China (mainland))

Am J Case Rep 2016; 17:429-433

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.898021


BACKGROUND: Subcutaneous panniculitis-like T cell lymphoma is a very uncommon subtype of cutaneous T cell lymphoma. The manifestations of this rare disease are atypical at onset, and may mimic some rheumatic or dermatologic diseases, which causes the delay of diagnosis and treatment.
CASE REPORT: We report a 24-year-old man suffering from intermittent fever and skin nodules on the left anterior chest wall, who was initially misdiagnosed with nodular panniculitis and finally diagnosed with subcutaneous panniculitis-like T cell lymphoma through repeat examination of biopsy of the skin nodule. Positron emission tomography revealed extracutaneous adipose tissue involvement. Subsequently, hemophagocytic syndrome occurred while under a conventional dose of glucocorticoid, but remission was induced by treatment with cyclosporine A and high doses of dexamethasone.
CONCLUSIONS:  In order to avoid the delay diagnosis and inappropriate treatment of subcutaneous panniculitis-like T cell lymphoma, in addition to a thorough physical examination, PET-CT and disease-specific pathologic, immunophenotypic, and T cell receptor tests of the skin biopsy should be performed. Extracutaneous involvement, especially hemophagocytic syndrome, indicated worse prognosis. Even so, cyclosporine A plus high-dose corticosteroid could be an option of treatment.

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