ISSN 2398-2950      

Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes


Synonym(s): Feline Paraneoplastic Alopecia and Feline Thymoma-Associated Exfoliative Dermatitis


  • Paraneoplastic syndromes (PNS) are defined as systemic disorders resulting from the presence of cancer, but NOT related to the size, location or metastasis of the tumor or to the physiological activities of the normal, mature tissue of origin.
  • Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes are a group of non-cancerous dermatoses associated with internal malignancy.
  • Timely identification of such syndromes allows prompt diagnosis of the internal neoplastic disease.
  • Conditions grouped under this name including Feline Paraneoplastic Alopecia and Feline Thymoma-Associated Exfoliative Dermatitis. Symmetric cutaneous necrosis of the hind feet has also been reported in a cat with multicentric follicular lymphoma.



Feline paraneoplastic alopecia

  • Hypothesized that shiny appearance of the skin is due to excessive grooming and removal of the stratum corneum.
  • This clinically and histologically characteristic dermatosis has been reported in association with pancreatic carcinoma and biliary duct carcinoma.

Thymoma associated dermatosis

  • Hypothesized that the dermatosis is secondary to an autoimmune attack of the skin possibly due to cross reactive epitopes between the thymoma and the skin. Other hypotheses include production or depletion of a specific substance by the tumor, or aberrant antitumor response with production of autoantibodies that cross-react with epithelial antigens that might be induced by dysregulated cytokine production of tumor cells, known to promote beta-cell differentiation and immunoglobulin production in vitro.

Predisposing factors


  • No predisposing factors have been identified for these syndromes.


  • The cause of feline paraneoplastic alopecia is currently unknown.

Thymoma-associated exfoliative dermatitis

  • Exact pathogenesis is unknown.
  • Histopathological findings of cutaneous biopsies suggest that a tumor-induced immune-mediated process may be involved.


  • Time course is variable but in most cases it is a rapid course.
  • Average time from diagnosis to euthanasia is 4-5 months.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Gójska-Zygner O, Karaś-Tęcza J, Lechowski R et al (2013) Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndrome in a cat with thymoma. Tierarztl Prax 41 (4), 255-259 PubMed.
  • Linderman M J, Brodsky E M, de Lorimier L P et al (2013) Feline exocrine pancreatic carcinoma: a retrospective study of 34 cases. Vet Comp Oncol 11 (3), 208-218 PubMed.
  • Rottenberg S, von Tscharner C, Roosje P J (2004) Thymoma-associated exfoliative dermatitis in cats.Vet Pathol 41 (4), 429-433 PubMed.
  • Seaman R L (2004) Exocrine pancreatic neoplasis in the cat: a case series. JAAHA 40 (3), 238-245 PubMed.
  • Turek M M (2003) Cutaneous paraneoplastic syndromes in dogs and cats: a review of the literatureVet Dermatol 14 (6), 279-296 PubMed.
  • Mauldin E A, Morris D O, Goldschmidt M H (2002) Retrospective study. The presence of Malassezia in feline skin biopsies. A clinicopathological study. Vet Dermatol 13 (1), 7-13 PubMed.
  • Tasker S, Griffon D J, Nuttall T J et al (1999) Resolution of paraneoplastic alopecia following surgical removal of a pancreatic carcinoma in a catJSAP 40 (1), 16-19 PubMed.
  • Godfrey D R (1998) A case of feline paraneoplastic alopecia with secondary Malassezia-associated dermatitisJSAP 39 (8), 394-396 PubMed.
  • Pascal-Tenorio A, Olivry T, Gross T L et al (1997) Paraneoplastic alopecia associated with internal malignancies in the cat. Veterinary Dermatology (1), 47-52 VetMedResource.
  • Scott D W, Yager J A & Johnston K M (1995) Exfoliative dermatitis in association with thymoma in three cats. Feline Practice 23 (4), 8-13 VetMedResource.
  • Brooks D G, Campbell K L, Dennis J S et al (1994) Pancreatic paraneoplastic alopecia in three cats. JAAHA 30 (6), 557-563 VetMedResource.
  • Carpenter J L & Holzworth J (1982) Thymoma in 11 cats. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association 181 (3), 248-251 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Bergman J P (2013) Paraneoplastic syndrome. In: Small Animal Clinical Oncology. Eds S J Withrow, D M Vail, R L Page & E G MacEwan. 5th edn. Chapter 5. Philadelphia: W B Saunders. pp 83-97.

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