Cronkhite-Canada syndrome (CCS) is a rare condition that can cause polyps in the digestive tract, hair loss, nail loss, changes to the skin, and diarrhea. There is currently no one standard treatment for CCS.

At present, the exact cause of CCS is unknown. Due to the rarity of the condition, the variety of symptoms, and complications that may arise, treatment options may vary from person to person.

This article discusses the causes and symptoms of CCS, how a doctor may diagnose the condition, treatments available, and more.

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CCS is extremely rare and can cause multiple polyps throughout the digestive tract. It can also lead to:

CCS may also lead to other diseases, such as cancer, and can be difficult to treat. There is currently no standard treatment that doctors prescribe for CCS.

The average age at which a person may develop CCS is 59 years. CCS can affect people from all backgrounds. However, it is more common in people with Japanese heritage. CCS is more likely to develop in males rather than females.

There is currently no known direct cause of CCS. It can occur sporadically and does not appear to be hereditary. However, several risk factors may lead to CCS, including:

  • Stress: Physical stress, such as trauma to an area of the body, and psychological stress may be a trigger for CCS.
  • Autoimmune conditions: There may be an association between CCS and various autoimmune conditions. There may also be a link between a person having certain antibodies present in the body and CCS.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection: H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can grow in the lining of the stomach. It can lead to an infection that can cause stomach ulcers, pain, and inflammation and may lead to CCS.
  • Allergic reactions: There is speculation that allergic reactions to various substances may cause CCS.
  • Being male: A person who is male may be more likely to develop CCS.
  • Heritage: A person with Japanese heritage may be more likely to develop CCS.
  • Age: The average age at which a person may develop CCS is 59 years.

The most common first symptom of CCS a person may experience is a loss of or change to taste. Other symptoms can include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • hair loss
  • loss of or changes to the nails
  • changes to the skin, such as darker patches and bruising
  • pain in the stomach and abdomen
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of smell
  • weight loss

A person with CCS may present with one, several, or all of the above symptoms.

To diagnose CCS, a doctor may examine all of the presenting symptoms and risk factors and assess the likelihood of the condition.

A person with CCS may typically have several polyps within the digestive tract, except for the esophagus. A doctor may perform a colonoscopy or endoscopy to determine if polyps are present.

A doctor may also request other tests, such as blood tests and fecal occult blood tests. To suggest CCS, a blood test may show:

CCS can lead to several complications. The most common complication of CCS is stomach cancer or cancers within the digestive system. These types of cancers affect approximately 10–20% of people with CCS.

There are also case reports that a person with CCS may experience villous adenomas, which are types of tumors that can lead to McKittrick–Wheelock syndrome. McKittrick–Wheelock syndrome is when a person’s fluid and electrolyte levels are extremely low.

CCS can lead to changes in the lining of the intestines, which can make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. It can also lead to a lack of calcium in the bloodstream and a vitamin D deficiency.

Some other complications of CCS can include:

  • vestibular dysfunction, a condition that disturbs the balance system and can lead to:
  • blood clots in an artery or vein
  • a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot breaks off and blocks a blood vessel in the lungs
  • peripheral neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage that can cause:
    • shooting or stabbing pain
    • weakening of muscles
    • loss of balance
    • tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • low levels of protein in the blood
  • low iron levels
  • damage to parts of the intestines, such as intussusception
  • pancreatitis, which describes pain and inflammation of the pancreas
  • bleeding in the digestive tract

However, it is important to note that CCS is extremely rare, and there is still much to learn about the condition and its potential complications.

Due to the rarity of CCS, the variety of symptoms, and possible complications, treatment options may vary. There is currently no specific treatment that doctors typically use to treat CCS.

A doctor will typically focus on managing symptoms and relieving discomfort.

However, 2020 research suggests that the most common form of treatment a doctor may prescribe is hormone therapy, such as prednisone.

Several other treatments may help symptoms of CCS, including:

Cronkhite-Canada syndrome (CCS) is an extremely rare condition that can lead to polyps in the digestive tract, skin changes, and a loss of taste and smell.

There is currently no known direct cause of CCS. However, the sex, age, and heritage of a person may increase the risk of developing CCS. Other risk factors can include stress and having an underlying autoimmune disease.

Several conditions can occur as a complication of CCS, such as stomach cancer and a loss of fluids, electrolytes, proteins, irons, and vitamins.

As CCS is so rare, there is no standard treatment for the condition. A doctor will typically focus on managing symptoms. Some treatment options can include removing polyps and medications such as corticosteroids.