Original Research

Nail Irregularities Associated With Sézary Syndrome

Author and Disclosure Information

Sézary syndrome (SS) is the leukemic form of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) and can be associated with various nail irregularities, though they are infrequently reported. In this retrospective study, we reviewed medical records from a CTCL clinic database at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas) for reported nail abnormalities in patients with a diagnosis of SS. Findings for 2 select cases are described in more detail and are compared to prior case reports to establish a comprehensive list of nail irregularities that have been associated with SS.

Practice Points

  • Nail changes are frequently observed in patients with Sézary syndrome.
  • Nail changes in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma may result from the disease process or physical symptoms of advanced disease, or they may present secondary to treatment.


 

References

Sézary syndrome (SS) is an advanced leukemic form of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) that is characterized by generalized erythroderma and T-cell leukemia. Skin changes can include erythroderma, keratosis pilaris–like lesions, keratoderma, ectropion, alopecia, and nail changes.1 Nail changes in SS patients frequently are overlooked and underreported; they vary greatly from patient to patient, and their incidence has not been widely evaluated in the literature.

In this retrospective study, we reviewed medical records from a previously collected CTCL clinic database at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas) and found nail abnormalities in 36 of 83 (43.4%) patients with a diagnosis of SS. Findings for 2 select cases are described in more detail; they were compared to prior case reports from the literature to establish a comprehensive list of nail irregularities that have been associated with SS.

Methods

We examined records from a previously collected CTCL clinic database at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This database was part of an institutional review board–approved protocol to prospectively collect data from patients with CTCL. Our search yielded 83 patients with SS who were seen between 2007 and 2014.

Results

Of the 83 cases reviewed from the CTCL database, 36 (43.4%) SS patients reported at least 1 nail abnormality on the fingernails or toenails. Patients ranged in age from 59 to 85 years and included 27 (75%) men and 9 (25%) women. Nail irregularities noted on physical examination are summarized in Table 1. More than half of the patients presented with nail thickening (58.3% [21/36]), dystrophy (55.6% [20/36]), or yellowing (55.6% [20/36]) of 1 or more nails. Other findings included 15 (41.7%) patients with subungual hyperkeratosis, 3 (8.3%) with Beau lines, and 1 (2.8%) with multiple oil spots consistent with salmon patches. Five (13.9%) patients had only 1 reported nail irregularity, and 1 (2.8%) patient had 6 irregularities. The average number of nail abnormalities per patient was 2.88 (range, 1–6). We selected 2 patients with extensive nail findings who represent the spectrum of nail findings in patients with SS.

Patient 1
A 71-year-old white man presented with a papular rash of 30 years’ duration. The eruption first occurred on the soles of the feet but progressed to generalized erythroderma. He was found to be colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Over the next 9 months, the patient was diagnosed with SS at an outside institution and was treated with cyclophosphamide, hydroxydaunorubicin, vincristine, prednisone, gemcitabine, etoposide, methylprednisolone, cytarabine, cisplatin, topical steroids, and intravenous methotrexate with no apparent improvement. At presentation to our institution, physical examination revealed pruritus; alopecia; generalized lymphadenopathy; erythroderma; and irregular nail findings, including yellowing, thickened fingernails and toenails with subungual debris, and splinter hemorrhage (Figure 1). A thick plaque with perioral distribution as well as erosions on the face and feet were noted. The total body surface area (BSA) affected was 100% (patches, 91%; plaques, 9%).

Figure 1. Sézary syndrome. A, Thickening and yellowing of the fingernails. B, Erythroderma and subungual debris also were noted on the toenails.

At diagnosis at our institution, the patient’s white blood cell (WBC) count was 17,800/µL (reference range, 4000–11,000/µL), with 11% Sézary cells noted. Biopsy of a lymph node from the inguinal area indicated T-cell lymphoma with clonal T-cell receptor (TCR) β gene rearrangement. Biopsy of lesional skin in the right groin area showed an atypical T-cell lymphocytic infiltrate with a CD4:CD8 ratio of 2.9:1 and partial loss of CD7 expression, consistent with mycosis fungoides (MF)/SS stage IVA. At presentation to our institution, the WBC count was 12,700/µL with a neutrophil count of 47% (reference range, 42%–66%), lymphocyte count of 36% (reference range, 24%–44%), monocyte count of 4% (reference range, 2%–7%), platelet count of 427,000/µL (reference range, 150,000–350,000/µL), hemoglobin of 9.9 g/dL (reference range, 14.0–17.5 g/dL), and lactate dehydrogenase of 733 U/L (reference range, 135–214 U/L). Lymphocytes were positive for CD2, CD3, CD4, CD5, CD25, CD52, TCRα, TCRβ, and TCR VB17; partial for CD26; and negative for CD7, CD8, and CD57. At follow-up 1 month later, the CD4+CD26 T-cell population was 56%, which was consistent with SS T-cell lymphoma.

Skin scrapings from the generalized keratoderma on the patient’s feet were positive for fungal hyphae under potassium hydroxide examination. Nail clippings showed compact keratin with periodic acid–Schiff–positive small yeast forms admixed with bacterial organisms, consistent with onychomycosis. At our institution, the patient received extracorporeal photopheresis, whirlpool therapy (a type of hydrotherapy), steroid wet wraps, and intravenous vancomycin for methicillin-resistant S aureus. He also received bexarotene, levothyroxine sodium, and fenofibrate. After antibiotics and 2 sessions of photopheresis, the total BSA improved from 100% to 33%. The feet and nails were treated with ciclopirox gel and terbinafine, but neither the keratoderma nor the nails improved.

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