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Do Hematologic Cancers Increase the Frequency of Demodex Spp.?

Gul Ilhan*, Ozlem Aycan Kaya, Feyyaz Bay, Cansu Onlen and Aliye Serpil Sarifakiogullari

Background and aim: Demodicosis is a parasitic skin disease caused by D. folliculorum and D. brevis, and is also known as hair follicle mite. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of D. folliculorum and D. brevis in hematologic cancer patients and to investigate their relation with chemotherapy.

Materials and methods: Sixty-six hematologic cancer patients and 60 healthy individuals with similar age and sex were included in the study. Of the patients with hematological cancer, 50 received chemotherapy and 16 did not receive chemotherapy. The demographic characteristics of the patients were noted. Samples were taken from the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead of the participants with standardized skin surface biopsy and examined in light microscopy at 40x and 100x magnifications to determine the mite density in cm2. Demodicosis was assessed as positive if 5 or more Demodex spp. were seen per cm2.

Results: Demodex spp. was positive in 19 (28.78%) of the cancer patients and 3 (5%) of the control group. The prevalence of Demodex spp. was significantly higher in the patient group (p<0.001). The mean mite count (31.31/cm2), in the patient group was also significantly higher than the control group (1.08/cm2), (p<0.001). Demodex spp. density was 38.94/cm2 in patients receiving chemotherapy and 7.50/cm2 in patients not receiving chemotherapy, and the difference between them was statistically significant (p<0.001).

Conclusion: In conclusion, our study showed that patients with hematological cancer were infected with Demodex spp. more than controls and that the density of Demodex spp. was significantly increased in chemotherapy group. It should be kept in mind that Demodex spp. increases with weakening of the immune system and may cause skin lesions in hematologic cancer patients, especially in chemotherapy receiving patients.