Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
 Open access journal indexed with Index Medicus & ISI's SCI  
Users online: 34010  
Home | Subscribe | Feedback | Login 
About Latest Articles Back-Issues Articlesmenu-bullet Search Instructions Online Submission Subscribe Etcetera Contact
 ::  Similar in PUBMED
 ::  Search Pubmed for
 ::  Search in Google Scholar for
 ::Related articles
 ::  Article in PDF (1,228 KB)
 ::  Citation Manager
 ::  Access Statistics
 ::  Reader Comments
 ::  Email Alert *
 ::  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free) 

  IN THIS Article
 ::  Abstract
 :: Introduction
 :: Case Report
 :: Discussion
 :: Conclusion
 ::  References
 ::  Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded57    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 3    

Recommend this journal


  Table of Contents     
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 197-199

A case of paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid in association with squamous cell carcinoma of lung

1 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Murshidabad Medical College, Berhampore, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission23-Jun-2014
Date of Decision29-Sep-2014
Date of Acceptance07-Jan-2015
Date of Web Publication26-Jun-2015

Correspondence Address:
A Das
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Murshidabad Medical College, Berhampore, West Bengal
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.150906

Rights and Permissions

 :: Abstract 

Bullous pemphigoid is a chronic, autoimmune, acquired subepidermal blistering disorder. It is idiopathic in origin, and mainly seen in elderly individuals. Association between bullous pemphigoid and internal malignancies is reported in the literature, but the exact causal relation is not established. Paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid is rarely reported in lung cancers, especially in squamous cell variety. So their presence should raise the suspicion of various internal malignancies including lung cancer. It is presented mainly with tense, large blisters over the erythematous base or over normal skin. Subepidermal blisters with tissue eosinophilia are characteristic histopathological features of bullous pemphigoid. Direct immunofluorescence shows linear deposits of IgG - complement complex along the dermoepidermal junction. Conventional treatment of bullous pemphigoid along with treatment of lung cancer (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) may result in successful resolution of skin lesions. Here, we report a rare association of paraneoplastic bullous phemphigoid and squamous cell carcinoma of lung in a 76-year-old male to increase the awareness among the clinicians regarding this variety of cutaneous paraneoplastic manifestation of lung cancer.

Keywords:  Bullous pemphigoid, lung, paraneoplastic syndrome, squamous cell carcinoma

How to cite this article:
Das A, Das S, Das S K, Basuthakur S. A case of paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid in association with squamous cell carcinoma of lung. J Postgrad Med 2015;61:197-9

How to cite this URL:
Das A, Das S, Das S K, Basuthakur S. A case of paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid in association with squamous cell carcinoma of lung. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Sep 23];61:197-9. Available from:

 :: Introduction Top

Paraneoplastic syndrome refers to non-metastatic metabolic or neuromuscular manifestations of certain malignancies and these paraneoplastic manifestations are not attributable to direct tumor invasion or compression as well as distant spread of tumor cells. It is most commonly associated with lung cancers, especially of small cell variety. [1],[2] It can affect endocrine, neurologic, dermatologic, rheumatologic, and hematologic systems. [1],[2] Paraneoplastic dermatologic syndromes include acanthosis nigricans, dermatomyositis, bullous pemphigoid, paraneoplastic phemphigus, and Sweet syndrome. [3] Incidence of paraneoplastic dermatologic manifestations in association with lung cancer is very low, and incidence of bullous pemphigoid is further rare. Paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid is most commonly associated with B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. [4] Management of paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid consists of cancer-directed therapy plus standard treatment of its non-paraneoplastic counterpart. Here, we reported a rare case of paraneoplastic bullous pamphigoid with squamous cell carcinoma of lung in a 76-year-old male.

 :: Case Report Top

A 76-year-old non-diabetic, smoker, male presented with cough, mucoid expectoration, and right-sided, dull aching chest pain for 3 months. There was history of recurrent episodes of streaky hemoptysis for 1 month and swelling of the face, neck, and upper half of the chest for 15 days. He also complained of itchy, painless, blistering skin lesions for 15 days over the outer aspect of the right arm, in both legs and over the front of chest.

On general survey, there were anemia, digital clubbing, and multiple, hard, non-tender cervical lymphadenopathy in the right supraclavicular area. Enlarged lymph nodes were fixed to underlying structure and overlying skin, but there was no discharging sinus. Progressively increasing swelling of the face, neck and upper half of the chest was associated with chemosis, corneal edema, and non-pulsatile engorged neck veins with negative abdomino-jugular reflux. The patient was hemodynamically stable.

Dermatological examination revealed large, tense vesicles and blisters over the erythematous base and multiple erosions of the whole skin, localized to the outer aspect of the right arm, the front of the chest, and over the extensor aspect of both legs. Nikolskiy's sign was negative.

Examination of the respiratory system revealed engorged, tortuous superficial veins over the chest with direction of blood flow from above downwards. The mediastinum was central. There was dull percussion note over the right clavicle, and over second to third intercostal spaces in right mid-clavicular line, and diminished vesicular breath sound with reduced vocal resonance over the right infra-clavicular and mammary areas without any adventitious sound - suggestive of a mass lesion in the right upper lobe.

Complete hemogram and blood biochemistry was normal, except hemoglobin concentration being 6.7 g/dL. Sputum was negative for acid fast bacilli and malignant cell. Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) of right-sided cervical lymph nodes showed metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. On chest X-ray, the postero-anterior view showed a mass lesion occupying right upper and mid zones, adjacent to the mediastinum. Contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) scan of thorax showed a mass lesion in the right upper lobe [Figure 1]. CT-guided FNAC of the mass lesion in the right lung showed non-small cell carcinoma. A CT-guided tru-cut biopsy revealed squamous cell carcinoma of the right lung [Figure 2]. Histopathology of a skin biopsy tissue showed a subepidermal blister with mixed inflammatory infiltrates with predominance of eosinophils, within the dermis - compatible with bullous pemphigoid [Figure 3]. No malignant deposit in the skin tissue was noted. A linear band of C3 deposits was seen along the dermoepidermal junction on direct immunofluorescence examination [Figure 4]. Hence, the diagnosis was right-sided squamous cell carcinoma of lung with superior vena caval obstruction, complicated by paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid.
Figure 1: CECT thorax showing a mass lesion in the right upper lobe, compressing superior vena cava

Click here to view
Figure 2: Microphotograph of histopathology of CT-guided tru-cut biopsy tissue of the right lung mass showing squamous cell carcinoma. (H and E stain, 10×)

Click here to view
Figure 3: Microphotograph of histopathology of a skin biopsy tissue taken from bullous lesion showing a subepidermal blister with mixed inflammatory infiltrates, predominantly eosinophils, within the dermis. (H and E stain, 10×)

Click here to view
Figure 4: Microphotograph of direct immunofluorescence study showing a linear band of C3 deposits

Click here to view

Skin lesions were initially treated with oral prednisolone (40 mg/day) and cyclophosphamide (100 mg/day) for 3 weeks. Topical application of beclomethasone and mupirocin ointment was given. Intravenous antibiotic was also given. But the number of blisters was gradually increasing. After the tissue diagnosis of lung cancer, cisplatin (75 mg/m 2 on day 1) and gemcitabine (1250 mg/m 2 on days 1 and 8) were given. After first cycle of chemotherapy, the number of skin lesions gradually decreased, and complete resolution of them was noted after third cycle of chemotherapy of the same regimen.

 :: Discussion Top

Bullous pemphigoid is a chronic, autoimmune, subepidermal, blistering skin disease that does not involve mucous membranes usually in contrast to pemphigus vulgaris. It is mainly seen in elderly individuals. But, it may be associated with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, etc. [5]

Iwashita et al. reported 10.4% cases of bullous pemphigoid are associated with internal malignancies. [6] However, it is reported to occur in association with parotid carcinoma, breast cancer, lung cancer, colo-rectal cancer, endometrial cancer, B-cell lymphoma, renal cell carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, esophageal carcinoma, endometrial cancer, bladder cancer, etc., as paraneoplastic syndrome. [7],[8],[9],[10]

Bullous pemphigoid is caused by immunoglobulin G (IgG) autoantibodies against the hemidesmosomal bullous pemphigoid antigens BP230 (BPAg1) and BP180 (BPAg2). [10] Bullous pemphigoid has diverse presentations, like classic tense bullous pattern or nodular, erythrodermic, eczematous, acral patterns, etc.

Bullous pemphigoid is very rarely reported in association with lung cancers, especially with the squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

Paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid presents with large tense bullae on erythematous bases or on normal skin. Histopathologically, the disease is characterized by subepidermal blisters, tissue eosinophilia, and IgG - complement complex deposition along the dermoepidermal junction.

Standard therapy with steroids and other immunosuppressants fails to resolve the paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid. In such cases, treatment of lung cancer results in successful resolution of the skin lesions. In our case, skin lesions developed following the onset of the lung malignancy, and despite of adequate treatment with steroids and cyclophosphamide, the number of blisters of bullous pemphigoid was gradually increasing. The blisters disappeared after giving chemotherapy. So why these two facts probably suggest the paraneoplastic nature of these skin lesions.

 :: Conclusion Top

In conclusion, definite relationship between bullous pemphigoid and lung cancer is not revealed, but their concurrent presentation is unexplained. As bullous pemphigoid develops prior to development of internal malignancies, the patients with bullous phemphigoid should be checked for internal malignancies including lung cancers.

 :: References Top

Pelosof LC, Gerber DE. Paraneoplastic syndromes: An approach to diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clin Proc 2010;85:838-54.  Back to cited text no. 1
Heinemann S, Zabel P, Hauber HP. Paraneoplastic syndromes in lung cancer. Review Article. Cancer Ther 2008;6:687-98.  Back to cited text no. 2
Silva JA, Mesquita Kde C, Igreja AC, Lucas IC, Freitas AF, de Oliveira SM, et al. Paraneoplastic cutaneous manifestations: Concepts and updates. An Bras Dermatol 2013;88:9-22.  Back to cited text no. 3
Robak E, Robak T. Skin lesions in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Leuk Lymphoma 2007;48:855-65.  Back to cited text no. 4
Peramiquel L, Barnadas MA, Pimentel CL, García Muret MP, Puig LL, Gelpí C, et al. Bullous pemphigoid and multiple sclerosis: A report of two cases with ELISA test. Eur J Dermatol 2007;17:62-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Cakmak O, Seçkin D, Ceken I, Yilmaz I, Akkuzu B, Ozluoglu L. Bullous pemphigoid associated with parotid carcinoma. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2002;127:354-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Iuliano L, Micheletta F, Natoli S. Bullous pemphigoid: An unusual and insidious presentation of breast cancer. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2003;15:505.  Back to cited text no. 7
Egan CA, Lazarova Z, Darling TN, Yee C, Coté T, Yancey KB. Anti-epiligrin cicatrical pemphigoid and relative risk for cancer. Lancet 2001;357:1850-1.  Back to cited text no. 8
Iranzo P, López I, Robles MT, Mascaró JM Jr, Campo E, Herrero C. Bullous pemphigoid associated with mantle cell lymphoma. Arch Dermatol 2004;140:1496-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
Thoma-Uszynski S, Uter W, Schwietzke S, Hofmann SC, Hunziker T, Bernard P, et al. BP230- and BP180-specific auto-antibodies in bullous pemphigoid. J Invest Dermatol 2004;122:1413-22.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Prevalence, Spectrum and Clinical Implications of Malignancies in Patients with Bullous Pemphigoid
Sharon Baum, Shani Steinberg, Ido Tzanani , Aviv Barzilai , Anna Lyakhovitsky
Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2023; 103: adv00888
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 A Case of Bullous Pemphigoid Associated With Nivolumab Therapy
Nico Gotera, Pablo Weilg, Caio Heleno, Natalia Ferrari-Gabilondo
Cureus. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Bullous pemphigoid associated with squamous cell lung carcinoma showing remarkable response to carboplatin-based chemotherapy: a case report
Prajwol Shrestha, Mathew K. George, Sweta Baidya, Sunil K. Rai
Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2022; 16(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article
Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow