Is Paraneoplastic Syndrome A Serious Condition?

Paraneoplastic syndrome is a collection of various diverse types of symptoms occurring away from the site of tumor or cancer and may or may not be related to the tumor directly or indirectly[1]. Paraneoplastic syndromes are a dangerous condition because their association with the tumor reduces the immune system of the body. Although it is not necessary that they will always present with some serious condition but to point out the fact that they are almost always associated with underlying cancer already makes it dangerous enough to be feared of.


Since there is a various number of symptoms which can present as paraneoplastic syndromes, the treatment and prognosis cannot be explained directly and may vary widely but depending upon the organ of involvement paraneoplastic syndrome can prove fatal in various cases. It may appear trivial enough to be ignored for a long time and even prove dangerous enough to take a life.


If only a few paraneoplastic conditions to be named then few of the most dangerous ones in the group are renal failure, cardiac failure, respiratory failure, autonomic instability, lupus erythematosus, amyloidosis, cardiomyopathies, etc. Even a combination of all these diseases can be seen in the paraneoplastic syndrome which makes it deadly.

Nonetheless, the paraneoplastic syndrome can appear in very trivial symptoms like anorexia, fever, weight loss, joint pain, cachexia, diarrhea, constipation, itching, pigmentation, nodules, body ache, increased thirst, rhinitis, sore throat, skin blisters, rashes, etc.


Although as much dangerous as it may sound these paraneoplastic syndromes may sometime be any important markers for the tumors which may not have been detected till now. It can also help in confirmation of some tumors as these are also very specific for few of the tumors like for example a cutaneous condition known as Leser Trelat syndrome is specific for gastric cancer.

Can It Be Reversed?

Treatment of the paraneoplastic syndrome depends upon the fact that which organ is involved, to how much extent is it involved, and cancer with which it is associated is a benign or malignant one. If the organ involvement is vital like heart, kidneys, liver, brain, etc. then the treatment of paraneoplastic syndrome could not be of much use because once these organs go into failure there are not much chances to recover. If the organ involvement is a trivial and small in size then the treatment of paraneoplastic syndrome could be of value and can have a good success rate. If the underlying tumor is a benign one then the paraneoplastic syndrome is usually not associated or even if found then it is less dangerous one but if the tumor is is a malignant one then the paraneoplastic syndrome is usually dangerous because of the continual involvement of the various organs due to the spreading nature of malignant tumors.

Various paraneoplastic syndromes are easily treatable. Also, the paraneoplastic syndromes are known to get cured automatically if underlying cancer or tumor is treated. Adjuvant medications along with the anticancer drugs can eliminate the paraneoplastic syndromes associated with the particular tumor. Sometimes the anticancer drugs are itself cause of the paraneoplastic syndrome and it disappears when the causative drug is withdrawn or replaced by another drug.[1]


The signs and symptoms of the paraneoplastic syndrome are to be detected as early as possible as these can present as even small trivial skin tag to a large failure disorder. It is a usually non-fatal group of symptoms but sometimes they can be life threatening also. It is just to keep an eye on any of the trivial symptoms especially if you are already suffering from some cancer and should be reported immediately to the medical practitioner and get it sorted. Reversal of the paraneoplastic syndromes would be easy if detected in early phases and adequate time is there for the treatment. It is important to have your treatment from a certified doctor and stay away from soul healers.


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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: July 6, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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