[Skip to Navigation]
June 1972

Polymyositis Masquerading as Carcinoma of the Cervical Esophagus

Author Affiliations

Columbus, Ohio

From the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus.

Arch Intern Med. 1972;129(6):984-986. doi:10.1001/archinte.1972.00320060132019

Dysphagia is a relatively common manifestation of polymyositis, which occurs in 50% to 60% of patients with this disorder.1 When dysphagia occurs, it is frequently due to weakness of the striated muscles of the posterior portion of the pharynx. However, abnormalities in esophageal motility, similar to those described in scleroderma, may also contribute to the difficulty in swallowing present in these patients.2 Approximately 15% to 20% of all cases of polymyositis are associated with an underlying neoplasm, and this incidence is even higher when only those patients over 40 years of age are considered.1 Although the true incidence of carcinoma of the esophagus coexistent with polymyositis is unknown, the association of these two entities is well documented.3

This report describes a patient with adult onset polymyositis in whom severe dysphagia and striking roentgenographic abnormalities in the cervical esophagus suggested the diagnosis of esophageal carcinoma. To