The Collison Newsletter May 2013





Campbell de Morgan Spots are common, benign skin lesions, formed by proliferating, dilated capillaries and post capillary venules.

They are also called (synonyms) cherry haemangiomas (because of their colour) and senile angiomas (because they appear as a person grows older).

Campbell de Morgan

Campbell de Morgan (1811-1876) was a British surgeon who trained at the University College Hospital, London and went on to be a house surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1841 he became a lecturer in forensic medicine and in 1845 professor of anatomy. It was he who first speculated that cancer arose locally and then spread, first to lymph nodes and then more widely in the body. His name is used to describe non-cancerous lesions on the skin which are bright red and tend to appear in later life. He was the first to write about these in the medical literature.

Characteristics of Campbell de Morgan Spots

Visually, Campbell de Morgan spots are 1-3mm in diameter macules (flat lesions) which, in time, may become larger papules (small round domes which may be flat topped). Rarely, they can grow up to 1cm in diameter.

They are typically bright cherry red in colour, but may also have a violet hue. They do not blanch when pressed.

The red lesions usually occur on the trunk and extremities. They are most common on the upper chest, but can be found on any skin, but not on mucous membranes. They may be widespread, especially in the elderly. They are generally asymptomatic, although mild itch may occur.

The lesions are made up of clusters of capillaries at the surface of the skin, and result from an abnormal proliferation of these blood vessels. They are referred to as haemangiomas or just angiomas, and are the most common form of angiomas.


Campbell de Morgan spots, or cherry angiomas, appear spontaneously in many people in middle age, and much less commonly in younger people. The underlying cause of the proliferation of the blood vessels that lead to the formation of these angiomas is not understood, although exposure to chemicals (such as mustard gas, 2-butoxyethanol, bromides and cyclosporine) has been linked to their formation. There may also be a hormonal mediator.


Campbell de Morgan spots, or cherry angiomas, are the most common cutaneous vascular proliferation. There is evidence showing that 75% of people over 75-years-old may have them.

They increase in frequency and size with age, most commonly with an onset in the third and fourth decades of life. They occur in all races and ethnic backgrounds, and in both sexes.

Management of Campbell de Morgan Spots

These lesions are harmless. However because the blood vessels comprising an angioma are so close to the skin's surface, cherry angiomas may bleed profusely if injured (the bleeding requiring appropriate treatment).

Reassurance, with appropriate explanation, is often required and generally no treatment is needed.

For cosmetic reasons, removal may be desired. Treatment options include laser, electrocautery, cryotherapy and excision.


Campbell de Morgan spots or cherry (haem)angiomas or senile angiomas are harmless.

In rare instances, a sudden appearance of many angiomas may be a sign of a developing internal malignancy.

Experts agree that they are best left alone, untreated, since they are not malignant and do not turn malignant .. they are harmless.



*Copyright 2013: The Huntly Centre.

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.


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