Rheumatologic syndromes may be the presenting manifestations for a variety of cancers (see eTable 39–1). Dermatomyositis in adults is often associated with cancer. Hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy, which is characterized by the triad of polyarthritis, clubbing, and periosteal new bone formation, is associated with both malignant diseases (eg, lung and intrathoracic cancers) and nonmalignant ones (eg, cyanotic heart disease, cirrhosis, and lung abscess). Cancer-associated polyarthritis is rare, has both oligoarticular and polyarticular forms, and should be considered when “seronegative rheumatoid arthritis” develops abruptly in an older patient. Palmar fasciitis manifests as bilateral palmar swelling with finger contractures and may be the first indication of cancer, particularly ovarian carcinoma. Remitting seronegative synovitis with non-pitting edema (“RS3PE”) presents with a symmetric small-joint polyarthritis associated with non-pitting edema of the hands; it can be idiopathic or associated with malignancy. Palpable purpura due to leukocytoclastic vasculitis may be the presenting complaint in myeloproliferative disorders. Hairy cell leukemia can be associated with medium-sized vessel vasculitis such as polyarteritis nodosa. Acute leukemia can produce severe joint and bone pain without florid synovitis. Rheumatic manifestations of myelodysplastic syndromes include cutaneous vasculitis, lupus-like syndromes, neuropathy, and episodic intense arthritis. Erythromelalgia, a painful warmth and redness of the extremities that (unlike Raynaud) improves with cold exposure or with elevation of the extremity, is often associated with myeloproliferative diseases, particularly essential thrombocythemia.
Immune-related adverse events from immune checkpoint inhibitors used to treat a variety of malignancies include pneumonitis, colitis, and inflammatory arthritis. These events are common and often can be managed with corticosteroids alone and adjustment of immunotherapy. However, the persistence of some autoimmune conditions despite cessation of cancer treatment, namely inflammatory arthritis, may require long-term immunosuppression.
et al. Expert Perspective: Immune checkpoint inhibitors and rheumatologic complications. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2021;73:553.
et al. EULAR points to consider for the diagnosis and management of rheumatic immune-related adverse events due to cancer immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors. Ann Rheum Dis. 2021;80:36.