Chronic pruritus: A paraneoplastic sign

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Chronic itch could be a presenting sign of malignancy. Pruritus of lymphoma is the common prototype of paraneoplastic itch and can precede other clinical signs by weeks and months. Paraneoplastic pruritus has also been associated with solid tumors and is an important clinical symptom in paraneoplastic skin diseases such as erythroderma, Grovers disease, malignant acanthosis nigricans, generalized granuloma annulare, Bazex syndrome, and dermatomyositis. In any case with high index of suspicion a thorough work-up is required. This review highlights the association between itch and malignancy and presents new findings related to pathophysiological mechanisms and the treatment of itch associated with malignancy. Combinative therapies reducing itch sensitization and transmission using selective serotonin and neuroepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, Kappa opioids, and neuroleptics are of prime importance in reducing this bothersome symptom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-596
Number of pages7
JournalDermatologic Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • itch pathophysiology
  • kappa opioids
  • neuroleptics
  • paraneoplastic itch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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