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Ann Hematol. 2002 Dec;81(12):677-90. Epub 2002 Nov 29.

Mastocytosis: current concepts in diagnosis and treatment.

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Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Unidad de Mastocitosis, Carretera de Colmenar Km 9.1, Madrid 28034, Spain.


Mastocytosis consists of a group of disorders characterized by a pathologic increase in mast cells in tissues including skin, bone marrow, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Mastocytosis is a rare disease. Because of this, general practitioners have limited exposure to its clinical manifestations, diagnosis, classification, and management. Diagnosis of mastocytosis is suspected on clinical grounds and is established by histopathologic examination of involved tissues such as skin and bone marrow. The most common clinical sign of mastocytosis is the presence of typical skin lesions of urticaria pigmentosa. Most patients experience symptoms related to mast cell mediator release, and prevention of the effects of these mediators on tissues constitutes the major therapeutic goal in the management of mastocytosis. Despite recent advances in knowledge about the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and classification of mastocytosis, a curative treatment for mastocytosis does not now exist. Management of patients within all categories of mastocytosis includes: (1) a careful counseling of patients (parents in pediatric cases) and care providers, (2) avoidance of factors triggering acute mediator release, (3) treatment of acute mast cell mediator release, (4) treatment of chronic mast cell mediator release, and if indicated (5) an attempt to treat organ infiltration by mast cells. The goal of this manuscript is to provide an overview of the mediators produced and released by mast cells, the diagnostic criteria for the different variants of mastocytosis, and the treatment options currently available.

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