Case Reports in Oncological Medicine

Case Reports in Oncological Medicine / 2019 / Article

Case Report | Open Access

Volume 2019 |Article ID 9103137 |

Rivadávio A. M. de Oliveira, Tassiara da Silva, Mariana Miyasaki Piovesana, Carlos Eduardo Stecca, George A. Lopes, Vitor Teixeira Liutti, "Advanced Esophageal Neoplasm with Subcutaneous Metastasis", Case Reports in Oncological Medicine, vol. 2019, Article ID 9103137, 3 pages, 2019.

Advanced Esophageal Neoplasm with Subcutaneous Metastasis

Academic Editor: Jose I. Mayordomo
Received12 Oct 2018
Accepted27 Mar 2019
Published24 Apr 2019


Objective. This report is aimed at describing a rare clinical condition of advanced esophageal cancer with subcutaneous metastasis. Case Report. The present case refers to a patient diagnosed with stage IV esophageal squamous cell carcinoma which started with dysphonia and cervical nodules. Soon after that, the patient developed dysphagia and subcutaneous lesions on the right flank. Later in time, we documented a disease progression, with worsening of subcutaneous implants, lymph node, bone, and pulmonary metastases in addition to malignant hypercalcemia. Conclusion. This illustrates a rare presentation of an advanced esophageal neoplasm. Subcutaneous metastasis from internal malignancies is unusual, corresponding to less than 10% of cases. Its occurrence in patients with esophageal cancer is even less common with very few cases reported in literature.

1. Introduction

According to the American Cancer Society, there was 17,290 new cases of esophageal cancer (EC) diagnosed in 2018, representing the sixth leading cause of death by a malignant neoplasm in the world. The most common EC subtype is the squamous cell carcinoma (60%), being more frequent among African Americans [1]. It is associated with specific risk factors, including smoking, alcoholism, and a low intake of fruits and vegetables.

The major sites of EC metastasis are lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and bones. However, there was an increasing incidence of metastasis in unusual sites in recent years. It is estimated that approximately 7% of EC cases develop with cutaneous and/or muscle involvement [2].

Subcutaneous metastasis (SM) occurs in 0,6-10,4% of all patients with solid tumors [1]. Among them, breast cancer is the leading cause in women and lung cancer in men, followed by colorectal cancer with equal incidence for both sexes. Patients with SM are more susceptible to complications, such as local bleeding, infection, and refractory pain [3].

2. Case Report

A 41-year-old male patient with no comorbidities except history of alcoholism—consumption of distillates daily in the last twenty-five years—and smoking (60 pack-years) presented with dysphonia and right cervical lymphadenopathy in October 2017. The symptoms worsened to progressive dysphagia and odynophagia and emergence of small subcutaneous implants in the right flank. He underwent a digestive endoscopy in November 2017, which showed a 5-centimeter lesion from 20 centimeter of the upper dental arch, compatible with a well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma on the pathological report.

After initial evaluation by the surgical staff, the patient was referred to exclusive treatment with clinical oncology and radiotherapy, since the tumor was not amenable to curative surgery. The staging computed tomographies demonstrated supraclavicular, mediastinal, paratracheal, infracarinal, and cervical bilateral lymphadenopathy, in addition to neoplastic implants on the right flank and right hemithorax and retroperitoneal and pleural nodules, as well as right fourth rib osteolysis. At this time, a biopsy in one of the subcutaneous implants located in the right flank was performed, confirming metastasis from esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (Figure 1) and immunohistochemistry (IHQ) was also performed, whose morphological findings were compatible with keratinizing epidermoid carcinoma infiltrating adipose tissue positive for p63/4A4 and cytokeratin cocktail.

In February 2018, the patient started his chemotherapy treatment with weekly paclitaxel and carboplatin with concomitant radiotherapy. Although metastatic, we chose this approach for a better response due to the bulky cervical disease, which engendered pain and discomfort.

Two months after beginning his treatment, the patient developed an intense lumbar and right thigh pain, associated with walking impairment. After a medical visit, hospitalization was chosen in order to evaluate the clinical etiology. A tomography was performed, and it showed a 38 mm right paravertebral expansive lesion on the L5 level, infiltrating the psoas muscle, lesions in soft parts of the left paramedian dorsal region, worsening of the armpit and right flank subcutaneous nodules (Figures 2 and 3), and multiple lymph node, bone, and pulmonary metastases.

Since the radiologic changes would justify the symptoms reported by the patient, palliative radiotherapy was indicated. However, the patient became drowsy and confused because of malignant hypercalcemia (serum calcium of 15,5 mg/dl). Altered mental status and elevated serum calcium persisted despite hyperhydration and administration of zoledronic acid. Few days later, he developed aspiration pneumonia followed by pulmonary focus sepsis.

The septic condition, as well as hypercalcemia, proved to be refractory to the proposed treatment. Considering the advanced disease, clinical intractability, and poor-performance status, exclusive palliative care was chosen. The patient died two and a half months after beginning his treatment.

3. Discussion

SM are rare, since less than 1% of solid tumors cause this event [4]. Breast, lung, colorectal, and melanoma neoplasms are among the most common malignancies related to skin/subcutaneous compromise.

SM can sometimes be confused with skin infections and inadvertently treated with antibiotics, which can delay the diagnosis of a recurrent or metastatic disease [5]. SM are often painless and commonly present as papules or skin-colored, violaceous, or erythematous nodules, as presented in this case [6]. Such lesions are more frequent in men compared to women, maybe because of less health care concerns in men [7].

EC rarely presents metastasis to other sites than liver, lungs, lymph nodes, and bones [8]. SM can occur by lymphatic and hematogenic dissemination and, due to the disease aggressiveness, is associated with a worse prognosis [4]. A retrospective series of 4,020 patients with metastatic tumors found an incidence of 10% of SM, 3 of them caused by EC [9]. In the previous studies, the median survival of patients with EC at stage IV is 4 to 6 months, however, if SM is present, the life expectancy reduces to only 4 months [10, 11]. In a prior retrospective study, clinicopathological features of EC with unexpected metastasis were detailed [10]. Esophageal metastasis was disseminated toward five main anatomical sites: head and neck (42%), thoracic (17%), abdomen and pelvis (25%), extremities (9%), and multiple skin/subcutaneous and muscle metastases (7%). About two-thirds of the unexpected metastasis originated from the lower esophagus.

The present case illustrates an advanced EC of the superior thoracic esophagus with early presentation of subcutaneous metastasis and a very aggressive behavior. This is an unusual presentation since the majority of SM of EC arise from primary tumors located in the lower third of the esophagus and the average time of emergence of SM is 2,9 years after the onset of the primary tumor [4, 12].

This case report gives emphasis to a dedicated physical exam. Once SM could be a manifestation of disease in oligosymptomatic patients, it is important to suspect lesions that could be related with EC which is a way that could give an early diagnosis and better prognosis of this aggressive disease. Our case outlines the importance of biopsy and/or immunohistochemistry in the management of SM, especially in cases with atypical presentations.

An informed consent was obtained from the patient’s family for the publication of the case details.


This case was presented in a Poster Session at “10th Franco-Brasileiro Congress of Oncology” that was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 20-22, 2018.

Conflicts of Interest

All the authors have no financial disclosures or conflicts of interests related to this manuscript.

Authors’ Contributions

RAM, TS, MMP, CES, and VTL contributed equally in this manuscript creation. GAL provided information and image related to the pathologic analysis. Vitor Teixeira Liutti also contributed to this article as a guarantor.


  1. M. H. Hedeshian, X. Wang, B. Xu, J. P. Fontaine, and F. J. Podbielski, “Subcutaneous metastasis from esophageal cancer,” Asian Cardiovascular and Thoracic Annals, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 520-521, 2006. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  2. J. Ananiev, A. A. Chokoeva, T. Stamatov et al., “The “different face” of esophageal cancer: cutaneous manifestation of visceral malignancies,” Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift, vol. 165, no. 23-24, pp. 509–511, 2015. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  3. R. Baijal, P. Hassan, M. Jain, D. Gupta, and N. Shah, “Cutaneous metastasis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma,” Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 42-43, 2013. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  4. S. Triantafyllou, D. Georgia, V. Gavriella-Zoi et al., “Cutaneous metastases from esophageal adenocarcinoma,” International Surgery, vol. 100, no. 3, pp. 558–561, 2015. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  5. I. Alcaraz, L. Cerroni, A. Rütten, H. Kutzner, and L. Requena, “Cutaneous metastases from internal malignancies: a clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical review,” The American Journal of Dermatopathology, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 347–393, 2012. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  6. C. R. Schadt, “The cutaneous manifestations of gastrointestinal malignancy,” Seminars in Oncology, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 341–346, 2016. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  7. J. Levin, L. Ogden, and B. Karnath, “Multiple cutaneous nodules presenting as metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus,” Dermatology Online Journal, vol. 19, no. 5, article 18173, 2013. View at: Google Scholar
  8. G. B. Iwanski, A. Block, G. Keller et al., “Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma presenting with extensive skin lesions: a case report,” Journal of Medical Case Reports, vol. 2, no. 1, p. 115, 2008. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  9. D. P. Lookingbill, N. Spangler, and K. F. Helm, “Cutaneous metastases in patients with metastatic carcinoma: a retrospective study of 4020 patients,” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol. 29, Part 1, no. 2, pp. 228–236, 1993. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  10. O. Shaheen, A. Ghibour, and B. Alsaid, “Esophageal cancer metastases to unexpected sites: a systematic review,” Gastroenterology Research and Practice, vol. 2017, Article ID 1657310, 13 pages, 2017. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  11. F. A. Herbella, M. G. Patti, and G. F. Takassi, “Skin metastases from esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancer,” Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 104-105, 2011. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  12. J. M. Park, D. S. Kim, S. H. Oh, Y. S. Kwon, and K. H. Lee, “A case of esophageal adenocarcinoma metastasized to the scalp,” Annals of Dermatology, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 164–167, 2009. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar

Copyright © 2019 Rivadávio A. M. de Oliveira et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Related articles

No related content is available yet for this article.
 PDF Download Citation Citation
 Download other formatsMore
 Order printed copiesOrder

Related articles

No related content is available yet for this article.

Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of 2020, as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles.