Indian J Sex Transm Dis Indian J Sex Transm Dis
Official Publication of the Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Indian J Sex Transm Dis
The Journal | Search | Ahead Of Print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Subscribe | Login    Users online: 519   Home Email this page Print this page Bookmark this page Decrease font size Default font size Increase font size

  Table of Contents  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41-43

Squamous cell carcinoma of penis with bullous pemphigoid masquerading as lymphogranuloma venereum

Department of Dermatology, SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, SRM Nagar, Potheri, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication4-Jun-2013

Correspondence Address:
V Venugopal
New no. 22, Dr. Nair Road, B-4, Vaishali Apartments, T. Nagar, Chennai - 600 017, Tamil Nadu
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7184.112938

Rights and Permissions



We report a case of a 60-year old unmarried male who presented with multiple ulcers and foul smelling discharge from the groin since 4 months and multiple tense bullae over the trunk of 1 month duration. Groove sign was present. Investigations for lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) and other sexually transmitted diseases were negative. Histopathology from the ulcer in the groin and growth in the penis revealed squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Skin biopsy of bulla was diagnostic of bullous pemphigoid (BP). We report a rare case of SCC masquerading as LGV with BP occurring as a paraneoplastic phenomenon.

Keywords: Bullous pemphigoid, paraneoplastic phenomenon, squamous cell carcinoma of penis

How to cite this article:
Venugopal V, Gnanaraj P, Fernandes S D, Narasimhan M, Karthikeyan S, Rahul S. Squamous cell carcinoma of penis with bullous pemphigoid masquerading as lymphogranuloma venereum. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2013;34:41-3

How to cite this URL:
Venugopal V, Gnanaraj P, Fernandes S D, Narasimhan M, Karthikeyan S, Rahul S. Squamous cell carcinoma of penis with bullous pemphigoid masquerading as lymphogranuloma venereum. Indian J Sex Transm Dis [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Nov 30];34:41-3. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Penile cancer is rare in developed countries, whereas in India and other Asian countries the incidence is decreasing. The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of penis varies worldwide with age, circumcision, and hygiene practices. Phimosis, lack of neonatal circumcision, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, penile lichen sclerosis, exposure to tobacco products, and Psoralen ultraviolet A (PUVA) are the known risk factors for development of SCC of penis. Up to 50% of patients with SCC of penis delay seeking medical attention by more than a year due to embarrassment, guilt, fear, ignorance, and personal neglect. The level of denial is substantial, given that the penis is observed and handled on a daily basis.

   Case Report Top

A 60-year-old unmarried male, presented with a history of multiple ulcers over his right groin of 4 months duration. It started as a painless swelling over the right groin, which evolved into multiple ulcers with foul swelling discharge. One month later, he developed a similar swelling in the left groin. There was no history of trauma at the site. Patient denied history of sexual exposure and there was no history of genital ulcer. He does not give history of arthralgia, loss of weight, or loss of appetite. Bowel and bladder habits were normal.

The patient also gave history of multiple blisters over the trunk and extremities of 1 month duration. There was no history of oral erosions or drug intake prior to the onset of lesions.

On general examination, the patient was moderately built and nourished, there was no pallor, icterus, pedal edema, or generalized lymphadenopathy. His systemic examination was normal.

Examination of the right inguinal region showed three tender excavating ulcers of sizes 6 × 8, 5 × 7, and 3 × 5 cm, respectively, located adjacent to each other with rolled out, everted edges, and foul smelling purulent, blood-stained discharge. Enlarged, grouped, and matted tender inguinal lymphnodes of sizes 5 × 7 cm were felt below the ulcer. Examination of the left inguinal region also revealed enlarged, grouped, tender inguinal nodes of size 8 × 6 cm present both above and below the inguinal ligament giving the appearance of "Groove sign of Greenblatt" [Figure 1]. External iliac lymph nodes were not palpable.
Figure 1: Right groin showing multiple excavating ulcers, left groin shows 'Groove sign of Greenblatt' and multiple tense bullae with erosions over thighs and penile shaft

Click here to view

Genital examination revealed phimosis. A firm, indurated, non tender mass of size 3 × 2 cm was felt through the prepucial skin on the glans penis, located on the 11'o-clock to 2' o-clock position. There was no lymph edema of penis. Per-rectal examination was normal.

Multiple tense bullae filled with clear fluid and erosions were present over upper limbs, lower limbs [Figure 1], and trunk. A tense bulla was present over the shaft of penis, which eroded later. Nikolsky's sign and bulla spreading sign were negative. There were no oral erosions.

With the above clinical findings, a differential diagnosis of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) or SCC of penis with regional metastasis associated with bullous pemphigoid (BP) occurring as a para neoplastic phenomenon were considered.

Dark field smear was negative for Treponema pallidum. Tissue smear was negative for Donovan bodies. Gram's stain was negative for gonococci. IgG antibody for  Chlamydia trachomatis Scientific Name Search  (serovars L1, L2, L3) was negative. VDRL for syphilis and ELISA for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1 and 2 were nonreactive. Mantoux was also negative. No abnormality was seen in his urine microscopy and pus culture reports. His laboratory investigations revealed anemia. Other blood counts, liver and renal function tests were normal. Tzanck smear taken from the bulla did not show acantholytic cells. His chest x-ray and ultra sound of the abdomen were normal.

Wedge biopsy of the ulcer in the right groin and from the penile growth showed ulcerated hyperplastic epidermis with severe dysplasia. The dysplastic epithelial cells invade the basement membrane forming nests with keratin pearls, consistent with keratinizing SCC of penis [Figure 2]. Skin biopsy taken from a tense bulla over the trunk, showed a sub epidermal bulla with mild lymphocytic infiltrate in the upper dermis consistent with BP.
Figure 2: H and E section of penile growth shows ulcerated hyperplastic epidermis with severe dysplasia. The dysplastic epithelial cells are seen to invade the basement membrane

Click here to view

Hence, a diagnosis of keratinizing SCC of penis with regional lymphnode metastasis and BP was confirmed. Patient was referred for surgical opinion and management.

   Discussion Top

SCC of penis may present either as a flat growth, infiltrating, or papillary growth. The lesion is not visible in most patients since the prepuce is non-retractile. The lesion continues to grow, with spread to inguinal nodes. The inguinal nodes increase in size followed by erosion of the skin over the nodes. Death may result from erosion of the femoral artery. [1],[2]

LGV primarily affects the lymphatic system. It starts as a small transient, inconspicuous lesion on the genitalia and spreads to regional lymphnodes resulting in bubo and suppurative lymphadenopathy. [3],[4]

In our patient, SCC of penis was masquerading as LGV since he presented with history of inguinal bubo, which later ulcerated. In addition the "Groove sign of Greenblatt" was positive. Moreover, the primary SCC was not noticed by the patient and was not visible during examination since the prepuce was non- retractile. A biopsy from the groin ulcer and penile growth that was felt on palpation had confirmed the diagnosis.

The occurrence of BP in this patient can be attributed as a paraneoplastic phenomenon to SCC of penis. The association between BP and malignant diseases remains controversial. Pemphigoid has been reported in numerous patients with malignancies, like breast cancer, [5] B-cell lymphoma, [6] lung cancer, gastric cancer, cancers of colon or rectum, endometrial cancer, and many others. [7],[8] In SCC, the expression of BPA1 and BPA2 is clearly increased. [9],[10] This could lead to production of antibodies directed against these antigens that results in the development of BP in these patients. To the best of our knowledge this is the first case of SCC of penis with BP occurring as a paraneoplastic phenomenon. We present this case to highlight that SCC of penis can masquerade as LGV and a high index of suspicion is required for an early diagnosis of SCC penis.

   References Top

1.Pettaway CA, Lynch DF, Davis JW. Tumors of the penis. In: Wein, Kavoussi, Novick, et al. Campbell - Walsh urology, 9 th ed, Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. p. 959-92.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Flowler CG. Urethra and penis. In: Norman S, Williams CJ, Bulstrode KP, O'connell R: Bailey and love's short practice of surgery, 25 th ed, London, Hodder Arnold 2008;1362-76  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Bajaj AK, Sharma R. Lymphogranuloma Venereum. In: Sharma VK, editor; Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, 2 nd ed. New Delhi: Vinod Vasishtha; 2009. p. 387-95.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Perine PL, Stamm WE. Lymphogranloma Venereum. In: Holmes KK, Sparling PF, Mardh PA, Lemon SM, Piot P, Wasserheit JN sexually transmitted diseases, 3 rd ed, New york, Mc Graw-Hill 1999;423-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Iuliano L, Micheletta F, Natoli S. Bullous pemphigoid: An unusual and insidious presentation of breast cancer. Clin Oncol 2003;15:505.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Egan CA, Florell SR, Zone JJ. Localized bullous pemphigoid in a patient with B-cell lymphoma. Southern Med J 1999;92:1220-1.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Egan CA, Lazarova Z, Darling TN, Yee C, Coté T, Yancey KB. Anti-epiligrin cicatrical pemphigoid and relative risk for cancer. Lancet 2001;357:1850-1.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Reich A, Szepietowski JC, Bialynicki-Birula R, Czarnecki R. Bullous pemphigoid in a patient with giant squamous cell carcinoma of the groin. Acta Dermatovenerol APA 2004;13:59-62.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Herold-Mende C, Kartenbeck J, Tomakidi P, Bosch FX. Metastatic growth of squamous cell carcinomas is correlated with upregulation and redistribution of hemidesmosomal components. Cell Tissue Res 2001; 306:399-408.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Yamada T, Endo R, Tsukagoshi K, Fujita S, Honda K, Kinoshita M, et al. Aberrant expression of a hemidesmosomal protein, bullous pemphigoid antigen 2, in human squamous cell carcionoma. Lab Invest 1996;75:589-600.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Eosinophilic dermatosis of haematological malignancy (EDHM): A series of nine cases
Farrah Bakr, Joaninha Costa, Jose Cabecadas, Rafael Cabrera, Mariana Cravo, Margarida Rafael, Arti Bakshi, Alistair Robson
JEADV Clinical Practice. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 De novo squamous cell carcinoma presenting as nodulo-ulcerative lesions on inguinal regions mimicking venereal disease
Gautam K. Singh, Sandeep Arora, Pankaj Das, Arun R. John, Akanksha Gupta
International Journal of Dermatology. 2021;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Paraneoplastic bullous pemphigoid associated with penile squamous cell carcinoma
A. Bishnoi, T. Narang, S. Handa, V. Vishwajeet, U.N. Saikia, R. Kapoor, R.S. Mavuduru
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2018; 32(4)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Response to: bullous pemphigoid inguinalis?
A. Bishnoi, T. Narang, S. Handa
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2018; 32(5)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Bullous pemphigoid inguinalis?
A. Abdelmaksoud
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2018; 32(5)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Article in PDF (935 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded59    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal