Departmental Articles, Volume 169, No 3


A 57-Year-Old Man with an Axillary Mass

Palak Desai, MD; Andrew Myers; Brian Boulmay, MD; Fred A. Lopez, MD

A 57-year-old man presented to the surgical oncology clinic with a mildly tender mass under his right arm. Four years prior, the patient had a melanoma removed from his right shoulder along with an ipsilateral right axillary sentinel lymph sampling. Computed tomography (CT) scan was negative for metastatic disease at that time. The patient did not undergo completion axillary node dissection and was lost to follow-up. The patient was originally from Australia, did not tan but reported multiple sunburns before age 18. He was of Irish ancestry. He denied weight gain, fever, fatigue, anorexia, or night sweats. 

The patient had a medical history of atrial fibrillation, hypertension, gout, melanoma, and benign prostatic hypertrophy. His surgical history included an appendectomy and a facial laceration repair. His brother died at 16 years old from leukemia and his mother died from colon cancer. He consumed 3 alcoholic beverages per day and denied tobacco or illicit drug use. 

On physical exam, the patient’s temperature was 98.8° Fahrenheit, heart rate of 73 beats / minute, blood pressure of 121 / 59 mm Hg, respiratory rate of 18 / min. He appeared to be healthy and in no apparent distress. Cardiovascular, respiratory, breast, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and neurological exam were unremarkable. His right axillary lymph node exam revealed a firm mass roughly 2.5 cm tall by 1.5 cm wide. This mass was biopsied and findings were consistent with metastatic melanoma. CT scan revealed small volume mediastinal adenopathy and a 4.5 cm right axillary mass. There was a 4.7 cm lesion within the anterior left lower lobe of the liver and periportal node conglomerate measuring 3.9 cm consistent with metastatic disease (Figure 1). He was negative for the BRAF V600E mutation.

The patient was consented for treatment with combination immune checkpoint inhibition with ipilimumab and nivolumab. After two cycles the patient showed good response, but temporarily stopped treatment after complications related to a ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. He developed mild pneumonitis felt to be related to nivolumab, and recovered after a short course of glucocorticosteroids. Restaging CT scans were ordered after two cycles of therapy (Figure 2), which showed decrease in the size of the axillary and hepatic metastases. At six months, CT scans showed continued durable response (Figure 3). 

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Chest Pain and ECG Abnormalities

D. Luke Glancy, MD

A 27-year-old man was admitted to the coronary care unit because of chest pain and an electrocardiogram (ECG) read by the computer as an inferior infarct and left ventricular hypertrophy (Figure).


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Idiopathic CD4 Lymphocytopenia

Chris Malone, BS; Neel D Gupta, MD; Amit Kothari, MD; Enrique Palacios, MD; Harold Neitzschman, MD

A 39 year-old male with a history of diabetes, retinitis pigmentosa, and genital warts presented with intractable occipital headaches accompanied with nausea and vomiting.  The patient had markedly depressed CD4 counts.  Furthermore the patient tested negative for HIV and HTLV 1/2 and had normal immunoglobulin levels.  During hospital course the patient underwent a lumbar puncture and multiple imaging exams, including both CT and MR. Except for occasional nausea and vomiting controlled by therapeutic lumbar punctures, phenergan, and dilaudid the patient’s hospital course was uncomplicated.

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