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What Is Lymphomatoid Papulosis?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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Lymphomatoid papulosis, also known as Macaulay’s disease, is a chronic skin condition that mimics the symptoms of a type of blood cancer known as T-cell lymphoma. The exact cause of lymphomatoid papulosis is not completely understood, although genetic defects are thought to be a contributing factor. Symptoms include skin lesions that tend to spontaneously appear and disappear. These lesions may itch and bleed, but there are not usually any systemic symptoms or abnormal lab values when blood tests are performed. Any questions or concerns about lymphomatoid papulosis or individualized treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Small, raised red or brown lesions often appear on the skin as the first symptom. These lesions may itch, bleed, or become easily irritated. The arms, legs, and trunk are the most commonly affected areas of the body, although the face, scalp, and feet may also be affected in some cases. These lesions tend to heal within a matter of weeks and may leave a small scar. Lymphomatoid papulosis lesions may come and go for a period of several years with no clear pattern of remission and recurrence.

As lymphomatoid papulosis mimics some of the symptoms of lymphoma, the only way to accurately diagnose the condition is through the use of a biopsy. This is a non-invasive surgical procedure in which a small sample of tissue from the lesion is removed and sent to a laboratory for further testing. At least two lesions are typically biopsied in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Further tests, such as a CT scan, are then performed just to make sure that there is no evidence of a more serious medical condition.

Although lymphomatoid papulosis is not fatal, a moderate percentage of those who have this disorder will later develop malignancies, usually in the form of lymphoma. Frequent medical monitoring is strongly recommended so that any changes can be diagnosed as early in the disease as possible. Unfortunately, there are no diagnostic tests that can determine who may have an increased risk of developing cancer as a result of the lymphomatoid papulosis.

Treatment for this condition usually involves the use of prescription creams and ointments designed to help control the lesions. If a skin infection develops, topical or oral antibiotics are typically prescribed. If the condition turns into a malignancy, more invasive treatment methods, such as chemotherapy or radiation treatments, may become necessary.

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