Paraneoplastic Syndromes of the Nervous System

What is Paraneoplastic Syndromes of the Nervous System?

Paraneoplastic Syndromes of the Nervous System is an assemblage of disorders that can strike those with cancer. It occurs when the immune system attacks portions of the brain, spinal cord and the outlying muscles and nerves. It is a rare disorder that often precedes a cancer diagnosis.

It strikes those with cancer of the blood, lungs, ovary and the breast more often than those with other types of cancer. It can cause irreparable and devastating damage to the nervous system.

What are the Symptoms of Paraneoplastic Syndromes of the Nervous System?

Signs of paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system vary according to the parts of the body that are afflicted. Symptoms may include:

  • Unsteadiness
  • Walking difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle atrophy and coordination problems
  • Fine motor skill difficulties
  • Problems swallowing
  • Slurring of speech
  • Impaired memory and cognitive skills
  • Vision disturbances
  • Sleep problems
  • Seizures
  • Sensory impairment
  • Unintentional movements

How is Paraneoplastic Syndromes of the Nervous System Treated?

Cancer treatment and immune system therapy can improve or correct this type of nervous system injury. Treatment for paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system may include:

  • Oral medications to prevent inflammation and decrease white blood cell production
  • Seizure prevention medication
  • Medication to boost chemical nerve cell to muscle transmitters
  • Plasma exchange therapy
  • Immunoglobulin therapy
  • Physical therapy to regain muscle function
  • Speech therapy for swallowing and speaking problems
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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 23, 2017
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