Cowden syndrome: mucocutaneous lesions as precursors of internal malignancy
JournalOral and maxillofacial surgery
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BACKGROUND: Cowden syndrome is an autosomal-dominant hereditary cancer syndrome with high variability and susceptibility. It is characterized by multiple hamartomas and neoplasms of ectodermal, endodermal and mesodermal origin affecting many organs and also by the increased risk of development of internal malignancies. CASE REPORT: A 62-year-old woman was referred to our Maxillofacial Unit with a hamartomatous mass of the left lateral tongue which had slowly grown and was obstructing normal speech and restricting oral intake. The patient had a known history of Cowden syndrome and underwent excision of the lesion under general anaesthetic. DISCUSSION: Orofacial mucocutaneous features are very common in multiple hamartoma and neoplasia syndrome with almost up to 90% of the patients being affected. These cutaneous and mucosal lesions, which are predominantly benign, often manifest prior to the development of the internal malignant tumours associated with the syndrome. CONCLUSIONS: The prompt identification of Cowden syndrome's plethoric signs and symptoms can lead to appropriate surveillance and multidisciplinary management. Oral manifestations are frequent, prominent and usually precede the establishment of malignant tumours of visceral organs; hence, the maxillofacial surgeon or general dentist may have a significant role in the recognition of the disease. Overall prognosis is dependent on prevention or early treatment of internal malignancies; consequently, early diagnosis together with frequent follow-up forms the cornerstone of management.