Heuristics are cognitive strategies used to facilitate decision-making. They can be helpful tools for expediting pathologic diagnoses, however, they can also affect judgment and lead to biases that guide the pathologist astray. We report the case of a 52-year-old female who presented with two unusual pigmented lesions on the wrist and thigh that clinically and histopathologically resembled an atypical melanocytic proliferation. A biopsy of the thigh revealed a broad proliferation of large, atypical cells forming nests within a heavily pigmented epidermis. The lesion was initially misdiagnosed as melanoma in situ, despite equivocal staining for melanocytic markers, likely due to anchoring and adjustment as well as availability biases, which restricted the differential diagnosis and limited the selection of immunohistochemical stains. It was later discovered through chart review that the patient had a prior history of a cutaneous CD30+ lymphoproliferative disorder, which eventually led to the appropriate diagnosis in this case. Herein, we highlight a rare and unusual presentation of a pigmented epidermotropic CD30+ lymphoproliferative disorder, along with the biases leading to its misdiagnosis and the steps leading to the revelation of the actual diagnosis.
- anaplastic large cell lymphoma
- cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- lymphoproliferative disorder