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INTRODUCTION

Paraneoplastic neurologic disorders (PNDs) are cancer-related syndromes that can affect any part of the nervous system; caused by mechanisms other than metastasis or by complications of cancer such as coagulopathy, stroke, metabolic and nutritional conditions, infections, and side effects of cancer therapy. In 60% of pts the neurologic symptoms precede cancer diagnosis. PNDs occur in 0.5–1% of all cancer pts, but they occur in 2–3% of pts with neuroblastoma or small cell lung cancer (SCLC), and in 30–50% of pts with thymoma or sclerotic myeloma.

CLINICAL FEATURES

Recognition of a distinctive paraneoplastic syndrome (Table 84-1); should prompt a search for cancer, as prompt treatment of tumor may improve the course of PNDs; many of these disorders also occur without cancer. Diagnosis is based on the clinical pattern, exclusion of other cancer-related disorders, confirmatory serum or CSF antibodies, or electrodiagnostic testing. Most PNDs are mediated by immune responses triggered by neuronal proteins expressed by tumors. PNDs associated with immune responses against intracellular antigens often respond poorly to treatment (Table 84-2), whereas those associated with antibodies to antigens on the neuronal cell surface of the CNS or at neuromuscular synapses are more responsive to immunotherapy (Table 84-3). For any type of PND, if antineuronal antibodies are negative, the diagnosis rests on the demonstration of cancer and the exclusion of other cancer-related or independent disorders. Combined whole-body CT and PET scans often uncover tumors undetected by other tests.

TABLE 84-1PARANEOPLASTIC SYNDROMES OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
TABLE 84-2ANTIBODIES TO INTRACELLULAR ANTIGENS, SYNDROMES, AND ASSOCIATED CANCERS

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