A case of carcinocythemia following breast carcinoma mimicking acute leukemia: a case report and review of literature

Monica Jain, Surbhi Gupta, Pragya Sukla, Alka Srivastava, R. K. Grover


Carcinocythemia, the presence of circulating cancer cells in the peripheral blood is a rare event which occurs as a late manifestation of solid malignancies and can be confused as acute leukemia. A 50-year-old male with breast carcinoma presented to the hospital with complaints of breathlessness and weakness. His routine hemogram showed leucocytosis along with marked anemia and thrombocytopenia. The peripheral blood smear showed presence of blast like cells and a diagnosis of acute leukemia/metastatic carcinoma breast was considered. The blasts like cells were negative for myeloperoxidase stain. The bone marrow revealed presence of metastatic adenocarcinoma. Carcinocythemia was diagnosed and the patient has been planned for docetaxol and carboplatin based chemotherapy. The differential diagnosis for carcinocythemia is acute leukemia which is common following chemotherapy and radiotherapy for solid tumors. These patients generally have a poor prognosis and survival.


Acute leukemia, Breast carcinoma, Carcinocythemia, Circulating tumor cells

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