Corticosteroids as treatment of viral induced haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in a patient with breast cancer

BJMO - volume 15, issue 4, june 2021

S. Wautier MD, C. Mahiat MD, T. Connerotte MD, PhD, N. Whenham MD, R. Poncin MD, L. Duck MD


Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare life-threatening disease characterised by cytotoxic immune deregulation leading to hypercytokinaemia and macro-phage activation. Given the high mortality rate, HLH must be suspected in nonspecific situations and promptly confirmed based on 2004-HLH criteria. In adult patients, HLH is usually secondary to infection, malignancy or underlying autoimmune diseases. As treatment, paediatric protocol consists of immuno-therapy and chemotherapy, followed by a haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). In adults, individualised modified treatment is recommended because of the variable cause and severity of situation. Corticosteroids are the mainstay. We report the case of a patient with breast cancer, for whom we made the diagnosis of HLH during her neoadjuvant chemotherapy based on the 2004-HLH criteria. A viral aetiology was suspected with reactive lymphocytes found on the blood smear, and we promptly initiate treatment of dexamethasone. Our patient fully recovered both from her HLH and breast cancer.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(4):186-91)

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