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Paraneoplastic Autoimmune Neurological Disorders

Autoantibody Evaluation to Expedite Diagnosis of Reversible Autoimmune Neurological Diseases and Cancer



April 2014

What are Paraneoplastic Disorders?

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:

  • Cerebellar degeneration
  • Limbic encephalitis
  • Encephalomyelitis
  • Opsoclonus-myoclonus
  • Stiff-man syndrome
  • Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Neuromyotonia or Isaac’s Syndrome

However, it is now recognized that paraneoplastic neurological disorders usually present with less exotic symptoms, such as peripheral neuropathy or a behavioral disorder.

Expeditious and Cost-Effective Screening

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.

Featured Tests

  • Paraneoplastic Autoantibody Evaluation: Serum | CSF
  • NMDA-Receptor Autoantibody by CBA: Serum | CSF

Classes of antibodies recognized in the paraneoplastic evaluation:

  • Neuronal nuclear
  • Neuronal and muscle cytoplasmic
  • Cation channel

Featured Algorithm

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.


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