By Gary M. White, MD

Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung metastatic to the skin This nondescript nodule on the scalp of an elderly man turned out to be metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

See also Sister Mary Joseph's nodule.


Erythematous nodules, plaques, and tumors are typical. There may be diffuse infiltration of the skin, so called carcinoma en cuirasse. In one review of 209 patients with cutaneous metastases, the anterior thorax region was the most affected area and the second was the abdominal region. Breast cancer was most common in women and lung in men. Very rarely, metastatic breast cancer may be pigmented [Dermatology Online J 22(3)].


Obviously referral to an oncologist is in order. Isolated treatment of skin lesions is usually palliative and may include:

Additional Pictures

Metastatic disease of the skin

Metastatic adenocarcinoma of the breast.
Metastatic breast adenocarcinoma to the skin

Metastatic prostate cancer. Photo courtesy UC San Diego
Prostate cancer metastatic to the skin

Metastatic melanoma near scar.
Metastatic melanoma near a the scar Melanoma metastatic to the skin near the scar

Metastatic melanoma--multiple distant lesions.
Multiple lesions of melanoma metastatic to the skin

Sometimes metastases present as subcutaneous nodules, here with metastatic leiomyosarcoma.
Metastatic leiomyoscarcoma to the skin

Prominent supraclavicular lymphadenopathy from metastatic melanoma.
Prominent supraclavicular lymphadenopathy from metastatic melanoma


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