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Idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) is a diagnosis made after the exclusion of other causes of eosinophilia. However, differentiation of idiopathic HES from eosinophilic leukemia is sometimes difficult. In some cases, these diagnoses can be differentiated by cytogenetic or molecular findings, as illustrated in the patients described herein.
We describe 3 patients with HES and associated pruritus; 1 patient also had recurrent lesions of eosinophilic cellulitis. All 3 patients were initially diagnosed as having idiopathic HES, but after evaluation and demonstration of molecular abnormalities, they were classified as having eosinophilic leukemia.
Patients with a diagnosis of idiopathic HES should be evaluated for cytogenetic or molecular genetic abnormalities. These abnormalities can establish a diagnosis of chronic eosinophilic leukemia and may provide clues for emerging therapies.
Smith KJ, Jacobson E, Hamza S, Skelton H. Unexplained Hypereosinophilia and the Need for Cytogenetic and Molecular Genetic Analyses. Arch Dermatol. 2004;140(5):584–588. doi:10.1001/archderm.140.5.584
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