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Paraneoplastic disorders of the nervous system are a group of rare autoimmune disorders that develop in some people with cancer. These disorders are usually mistaken at the start for multiple sclerosis, stroke, or untreatable degenerative disorders and occur when cancer-fighting agents of the immune system attack healthy nerve or muscle cells.
Depending on the location of the cell damage, these syndromes can cause problems with muscle movement or coordination, sensory perception, memory or thinking skills, or sleep. Lung, breast, and ovarian cancers are commonly associated with these disorders.
Classic paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system include:
However, it is now recognized that paraneoplastic neurological disorders usually present with less exotic symptoms, such as peripheral neuropathy or a behavioral disorder.
The Paraneoplastic Autoantibody Evaluation developed by the Mayo Clinic Neuroimmunology Laboratory, is a patient-individualized, physician-directed consultation that aids the diagnosis of autoimmune disorders of brain, nerve, and muscle that reflect an immune response initiated by unsuspected cancer.
Comprehensive serological testing is the most expeditious and cost-effective screening for evidence of cancer in a patient presenting with a subacute neurological disorder. Prompt and comprehensive serological analysis is also in the best interest of the patient to assure early diagnosis and appropriate therapy in the window of reversibility.
Classes of antibodies recognized in the paraneoplastic evaluation:
The Paraneoplastic Autoantibody Evaluation is optimized by providing serological testing in an algorithmic approach based on the experience of Mayo Clinic physicians and research scientists.