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Man, 46, dies from cancer of the PALM despite having his arm amputated

Man dies from skin cancer on his PALM despite having his arm amputated to fight the disease ’caused by him having radiotherapy 40 years earlier’

  • The unnamed 56-year-old was treated for palmar hyperhidrosis of both hands
  • Thirty-eight years later, he noticed a painless mark on his right palm
  • A biopsy then revealed he had the skin cancer squamous-cell carcinoma 

A man has died from skin cancer on his right palm which doctors say was caused by radiotherapy, a case report has revealed.

The unnamed 56-year-old noticed a painless mark on his palm, which he ignored until it started to ulcerate 18 months down the line.

A biopsy revealed he had palmar squamous-cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer which had spread to surrounding tissue.

The man, who lived in Switzerland, had his right arm amputated in an attempt to beat the disease but died 17 months after he was diagnosed.

An unnamed man, 56, developed skin cancer on his palm nearly four decades after he received radiotherapy to the area to treat heavy sweating. He went to hospital after developing a 2cm ulcerated lesion (pictured). The man had his arm amputated to treat the disease but later died

Doctors who treated him in Switzerland have published a gruesome pictured of the ulcerated lesion in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

The man went to the Dermatologie La Colline medical centre in Geneva when he developed a 2cm (0.7inch) ulcerated lesion on his palm.

Almost 40 years earlier, he had received radiotherapy to both hands to combat his heavy sweating.    

Medics, led by Dr Alexandre Campanelli, wrote in the report that they noticed his palms were red and dry. 

They also diagnosed him with lymphadenopathy, swollen lymph nodes, in his right bicep.

Lymphadenopathy can occur if the lymphatic system is fighting a disease or infection. 

A biopsy led to him being diagnosed with invasive squamous-cell carcinoma. The doctors concluded his skin became irritated due to ‘chronic radiation’. 

The man had his arm amputated and endured chemotherapy but later died of ‘complications of metastatic disease’. 

‘Radiation-induced squamous-cell carcinoma’ can appear decades after a patient is exposed to radiation, the doctors wrote. 

It is unclear how often this complication occurs.

Suzanne McGettigan, oncology nurse at Penn Medicine, wrote on OncoLink: ‘Radiation can increase your risk for skin cancers in the area that received radiation. 

‘The most common types of skin cancers seen are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.’

Radiotherapy is rarely used to treat heavy sweating these days. Patients are instead given topical treatments, which may be followed by botox injections, oral drugs or surgery in extreme cases.


Tumours that develop on the palms of the hands tend to be a form of the aggressive skin cancer melanoma called acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM).

ALM can also appear on the soles of the feet or beneath the nails.

The disease makes up around one-to-three per cent of melanoma cases in Australia and New Zealand, DermNet NZ statistics show.

It is the most common form of melanoma in darker skin tones. 

ALM is ‘rare’ in the UK and US. Its exact prevalence is unknown.   

Squamous cell carcinoma, another form of skin cancer, is ‘very rare’ on the palm, according to a 2007 paper in the journal Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica.

Its onset has been linked to ‘trauma’, radiotherapy and pesticide exposure.

Sunlight is not thought to be a cause due to the backs of the hands generally being where UV rays hit. 


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