Lichen planus of the esophagus: What dermatologists need to know

  • Fox L
  • Lightdale C
  • Grossman M
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Background: Esophageal lichen planus (ELP) is a rare manifestation of mucocutaneous lichen planus (LP). Objectives: We aimed to report our experience and review all cases of ELP reported in the English-language literature. Methods: We report our experience with 4 cases and reviewed PubMed for reports of ELP. Cases were evaluated for age of onset, sex, location of LP, relationship of the onset of ELP to extra-ELP, endoscopic findings, whether biopsy was performed, histopathology of esophageal biopsy specimens, medical history (including gastrointestinal history), development of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, therapies tried, and response to treatment. Results: A total of 72 cases of ELP were studied. In all, 87% of patients were female, with a median age of 61.9 years at time of diagnosis. Dysphagia was present in 81% and odynophagia was present in 24%. Oral LP was present in 89%, anogenital/vulvar LP in 42%, and cutaneous LP in 38%. Fourteen patients developed ELP as the sole or first manifestation of LP. Proximal esophageal lesions were present in 64%, distal in 11%, and both proximal and distal in 26%. Histology was "consistent with" LP in 71%. Four patients developed squamous cell carcinoma in association with ELP. Limitations: This is a review of our cases and others reported in the literature. Conclusions: ELP is underrecognized and underreported. There is often a significant delay between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis. Malignant transformation of ELP to squamous cell carcinoma has been reported. © 2010 by the American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • endoscopy
  • esophageal lichen planus
  • lichen planus
  • vulvovaginal gingival syndrome

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  • Lindy Peta Fox

  • Charles J. Lightdale

  • Marc E. Grossman

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