Paraneoplastic syndrome (patient information)
Paraneoplastic syndrome On the Web
A paraneoplastic syndrome is a disease or symptom that is the consequence of the presence of cancer in the body, but is not due to the local presence of cancer cells. These phenomena are mediated by humoral factors (by hormones or cytokines) excreted by tumor cells or by an immune response against the tumor. Sometimes the symptoms of paraneoplastic syndromes show even before the diagnosis of a malignancy. A paraneoplastic syndrome is a set of symptoms that are caused by a cancer. The symptoms happen in a different area of your body from your cancer.
- Paraneoplastic syndromes are caused by your cancer making hormones or your immune system making antibodies (substances that protect your body against certain infection) that flow through your blood
- Paraneoplastic syndromes cause different symptoms depending on the tissues and organs they are involved.
- About 20% of people with cancer get a paraneoplastic syndrome and the most common cancers are lung, hepatocellular, ovarian, breast, gastric , pancreatic and other cancers.
What are the symptoms of paraneoplastic syndromes?
Neurologic (brain, spinal cord, and nerve) symptoms
- Weakness or loss of strength
- Loss of feeling
- Slower reflexes
- Trouble using different parts of your body the way you want, such as your arms or legs
Endocrine (hormone system) symptoms
- Red, warm skin
- Muscle swelling that causes weakness and soreness
- Painful swelling of your joints that may change the shape of your fingers and toes
- Changes to your blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets)
- There are no cures for paraneoplastic syndromes. The type and stage of the diagnosis of the cancer determine the prognosis.
- The tumor and cancer are treated first, followed by efforts to decrease the autoimmune response, either through steroids such as cortisone or prednisone, high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin, or irradiation.
- Plasmapheresis, a process that cleanses antibodies from the blood, may ease symptoms in people with paraneoplastic disorders that affect the peripheral nervous system.
- Speech and physical therapy may help individuals regain some functions.