Paraneoplastic syndrome

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Differential diagnosis

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] ; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Gertrude Djouka, M.D.[2]
Synonyms and keywords: Paraneoplastic syndrome


Paraneoplastic syndromes are a rare type of disease that is caused by abnormal immune systems resulting from cancerous cells. Paraneoplastic syndromes are disorders due to the release of hormones, or peptides that cause immune cross-reactivity between cancerous cells and normal tissues. Sometimes the symptoms of paraneoplastic syndromes show even before the diagnosis of a malignancy. There is no screening for paraneoplastic syndromes. The stage and type of diagnosis of cancer determine the prognosis of a paraneoplastic syndrome. The causes are mostly related to the organ affected. The paraneoplastic syndromes are divided into four main categories such as musculocutaneous, neurological, hematological and endocrines. They are no cures for the paraneoplastic syndrome, but cancer treatment and some medications to reduce autoimmune responses are helpful.


  • Paraneoplastic syndromes may be classified into 5 main categories accordingly:
Type of paraneoplastic syndrome Subtype Associated Cancers


Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

  • Paraneoplastic syndromes causes may be regrouped by organ system.[26][27]
Ear Nose Throat
  • No underlying causes

Differential diagnosis

Paraneoplastic syndromes must be differentiated from others types of cancer depending on the location and type of organs.

Diseases Clinical manifestations Para-clinical findings Gold standard Additional findings
Symptoms Physical examination
Lab Findings Imaging Histopathology
Small cell lung cancer[28][29] _ _ Small, round and oval cells


Biopsy _
Squamous lung cancer[30]

_ _ _ _
Hepatocellular carcinoma[31][32] _ _ _ _
Diseases Symptom 1 Symptom 2 Symptom 3 Physical exam 1 Physical exam 2 Physical exam 3 Lab 1 Lab 2 Lab 3 Imaging 1 Imaging 2 Imaging 3 Histopathology Gold standard Additional findings
Breast cancer[33][34][35] _ _ _ _ _ _
Renal cancer[36][37][38][39] _ _
  • Depends on the subtypes
Pancreatic cancer[40][41][42][43] _
  • U/S: hypoechoic mass
Gastric cancer[44][45][46][47]

_ _ _
Lymphoma][48][49] _ _ _ _
  • Depends on the type of lymphoma
Ovarian cancer[50][51] _ _


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