What are the neurological signs of Paraneoplastic Encephalomyelitis Syndrome (PNS)?

The Bottom Line:

Due to their high specificity (> 90%), the best way to diagnose a neurological disorder as paraneoplastic is to identify one of the well-characterized anti-onconeural protein antibodies in the patient’s serum. In addition, as these antibodies are associated with a restricted range of cancers, they can guide the search for the underlying tumor at a stage when it is frequently not clinically overt.

Reference: Honnorat J, Antoine JC.  Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes.  Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2007 May 4;2:22.  

Summary:

PNS can affect any part of the central and peripheral nervous system, the neuromuscular junction, and muscle. They can be isolated or occur in association. In most patients, the neurological disorder develops before the cancer becomes clinically overt and the patient is referred to the neurologist who has the charge of identifying a neurological disorder as paraneoplastic. PNS are usually severely disabling. The most common PNS are Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), subacute cerebellar ataxia, limbic encephalitis (LE), opsoclonus-myoclonus (OM), retinopathies (cancerassociated retinopathy (CAR) and melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR), Stiff-Person syndrome (SPS), chronic gastrointestinal pseudoobstruction (CGP), sensory neuronopathy (SSN), encephalomyelitis (EM) and dermatomyositis.

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