Paraneoplastic syndromes are rare disorders that are triggered by an altered immune system response to a neoplasm.
They are defined as clinical syndromes involving nonmetastatic systemic effects that accompany malignant disease.
Although fever is the most common presentation, several clinical pictures may be observed, each of which specifically simulates more common benign conditions.
These syndromes vary from dermatomyositis-polymyositis to Cushing syndrome to the malignant carcinoid syndrome. A large number of cancer patients show central nervous system involvement.
Because of their complexity and variety, the clinical presentations of these syndromes may vary greatly.
Usually, paraneoplastic syndromes are divided into the following categories: (1) miscellaneous (nonspecific), (2) rheumatologic, (3) renal, (4) gastrointestinal, (5) hematologic, (6) cutaneous, (7) endocrine, and (8) neuromuscular.
Treatment of the underlying tumor
: in general, the therapeutic protocols used are those that are applied in patients without paraneoplastic syndromes.
Treatment of the presumptive immune-mediated disorder
: based on immunosuppression (by intravenous Immunoglobulins , steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs or by plasma exchange), should be reserved for patients with clearly identifiable antibodies.
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Adapted from Medscape Drugs & Diseases. Paraneoplastic Syndromes. Available at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280744-overview. Accessed on February 15, 2016. To view the entire article and all other content on the Medscape Drugs & Diseases site, a free, one-time registration is required.