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Chronic Urticaria as a Presenting Sign of Hairy Cell Leukemia

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Chronic urticaria is a common clinical disorder that is idiopathic in over 75% of cases. Less commonly, urticaria may be the presenting manifestation of an allergic or infectious disease, endocrinopathy, inherited syndrome, or autoimmune disorder. Rarely, urticaria may be a sign of underlying malignancy, including leukemia. C.C. is a 48-year-old white female who was referred for evaluation of recurrent urticaria for 3 years. The pruritic, erythematous wheals were pinpoint, and appeared to be precipitated by heat, stress, and effort. Prick tests were negative except to D. pteronyssinus. CBCs over the past 5 years revealed WBCs of 2,300–5,000 cells/mm3. Skin biopsy revealed interstitial edema with infiltration of eosinophils and mast cells consistent with urticaria. The impression was probable cholinergic urticaria, for which hydroxyzine was prescribed with fair symptomatic control. One year later, she presented with bright red blood per rectum. Repeat physical examination revealed lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. Subsequent laboratory studies showed pancytopenia. Endoscopy was normal except for small, nonbleeding hemorrhoids. Bone marrow biopsy revealed histologic evidence of hairy cell leukemia that was treated with 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine. Upon initiation of chemotherapy her pruritus and urticaria subsided. Recent CBC revealed Hgb 9.2 g/dL, platelets 290,000 cells/mm3, and WBC 4,100 cells/mm3. Peripheral blood smear showed no hairy cells.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-01-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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