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July 1991


Author Affiliations

Department of Genetics Yale University School of Medicine 333 Cedar St New Haven, CT 06510

Arch Dermatol. 1991;127(7):1063. doi:10.1001/archderm.1991.01680060139022

To the Editor.—  While the presence of cafe au lait spots is certainly not a new phenomenon, an increasing awareness and interest of the lay community, and perhaps the broader medical community as well, has prompted the referral of patients, both pediatric and adult, to dermatologists. The emergence of the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation in the 1980s and the activity of state chapters have certainly contributed to this awareness as has the recent announcement of the cloning of the gene for von Recklinghausen neurofibromatosis (NF1), and its identification as a potential participant in the ras oncogene pathway.1Perhaps the greatest single contributor to the public awareness was Joseph Merrick, better known by the vivid portrayal of his character in the movie called "The Elephant Man." While this portrayal catapulted the unfortunate man's disease, erroneously thought to be NF1, into the limelight, it has, at the same time, created unnecessary anxiety

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