Exacerbation, then Clearance, of Mutation-Proven Darier's Disease of the Skin after Radiotherapy for Bronchial Carcinoma: A Case of Radiation-Induced Epidermal Differentiation? Academic Article uri icon


  • We investigated a radiotherapy-induced flare and subsequent clearance of skin lesions of a patient with the rare, dominantly inherited genodermatosis, Darier's disease (DD). The DD gene, ATP2A2, was recently isolated and shown to be a cation pump responsible for regulating intracellular calcium homeostasis. A severe exacerbation of Darier's skin lesions developed within the radiation field when 40 Gy of palliative thoracic external-beam radiation therapy and concurrent chemotherapy (cisplatin and hydroxyurea) were delivered for non-small cell lung cancer. The DD lesions subsequently completely cleared from irradiated skin, as they did when a subsequent course of radiation alone was given for a loco-regional tumor recurrence. The two radiation therapy-treated areas of skin remained free from lesions of the skin disorder until the patient's death from progressive lung cancer 9 months later. The nucleotide sequence of the patient's ATP2A2 gene was determined by PCR-based cycle sequencing. We identified four nucleotide sequence variants in the ATP2A2 gene in this patient. Three were probable polymorphisms and the other appeared to be a novel disease-causing mutation (R751Q), situated in the transmembrane portion of the ATP2A2 protein. This finding confirmed the clinical diagnosis. Since epidermis turns over every 3-4 weeks, total and persistent clearance of the DD lesions by chemoradiotherapy suggests that this treatment induced sustained differentiation of the DD-affected skin by an unknown mechanism. Oncologists treating malignant disease in patients with DD should anticipate temporary deterioration in DD-involved irradiated skin. Radiation therapy has therapeutic potential in severe DD.


  • Mac Manus, Michael P
  • Cavalleri, Gianpiero
  • Ball, David L
  • Beasley, Matthew
  • Rotstein, Harvey
  • McKay, Michael J

publication date

  • December 2001

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