Paraneoplastic Syndrome: Symptoms & Signs

Paraneoplastic syndrome is a group of symptoms caused by a substance that is produced by a tumor or in reaction to a tumor (see the causes section below for more information). A number of different types of paraneoplastic syndrome can occur, depending upon the substances produced by the tumor. The symptoms produced can involve different organs and organ systems, including the endocrine, neuromuscular or musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, cutaneous, hematologic, gastrointestinal, or renal systems. Therefore, paraneoplastic syndromes can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Fever is a common manifestation of many paraneoplastic syndromes, along with loss of appetite and wasting (cachexia). Other symptoms and signs depend upon the specific organ system.

Paraneoplastic syndrome causes

Paraneoplastic syndrome is caused by substances that circulate through the bloodstream that are either made by a tumor or are made in reaction to the tumor. It is not caused by the tumor itself, nor is it caused by compression, infection, or treatment of the tumor. The substances that cause paraneoplastic syndrome may be hormones or other biologically active products produced by the tumor, substances that block the actions of normal hormones, substances that trigger an autoimmune response, or substances that lead to immune-complex production or immunosuppression.

REFERENCES:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Santacroce, Luigi. "Paraneoplastic Syndromes." Medscape.com. Sept. 30, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280744-overview>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/20/2016

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