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Paraneoplastic Neurologic Disorders
Other Names for this Disease
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Paraneoplastic neurologic disorders are a group of rare degenerative conditions that are triggered by a person's immune system response to a cancerous tumor. Researchers believe these disorders occur when cancer-fighting antibodies or white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack normal cells in the nervous system. Paraneoplastic neurologic disorders typically develop after mid-adulthood and are most common in people with lung, ovarian, lymphatic, or breast cancer. Symptoms generally develop over a period of days to weeks and usually occur prior to tumor detection. These symptoms may include difficulty in walking and/or swallowing, loss of muscle tone, loss of fine motor coordination, slurred speech, memory loss, vision problems, sleep disturbances, dementia, seizures, sensory loss in the limbs, and vertigo. Paraneoplastic neurologic disorders include Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, stiff-person syndrome, encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), myasthenia gravis, cerebellar degeneration, limbic and/or brainstem encephalitis, neuromyotonia, and opsoclonus (involving eye movement) and sensory neuropathy.
- NINDS Paraneoplastic Syndromes Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Website. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paraneoplastic/paraneoplastic.htm. Accessed November 25, 2008.
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- The National Cancer Institute (CIS) provides the most current information on cancer for patients, health professionals, and the general public. You can reach them by calling toll-free at 1-800-422-6237 or by visiting their Web site.
- The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
- The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.