Paraneoplastic syndromes are clusters of rare diseases that affect some of the people suffering from cancer. It affects various systems in the body, including the nervous system, the hormonal and circulatory system, joints and skin.(1)
What Is The Best Treatment For Paraneoplastic Syndrome?
The paraneoplastic syndrome does not have any cure at present. The treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms and preventing any further damage to the nervous system. The treatment usually includes treating underlying cancer. This may be achieved through medications and /or surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be given in order to kill any remaining cancer cells after the primary treatment is done. Sometimes, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be the only required modes of treatment for treating cancer. The treatment may also include suppressing the immune system response, as the immune system attacks healthy brain nerves along with cancer- causing cells.(2) The treatment options include(2)
Medications- certain medicines may help in suppressing the immune system response in paraneoplastic syndrome. These medicines may include-
Corticosteroids- Medicines like prednisone and cortisone fall in this category. However, this group of medicines has serious and long-term side effects. Hence, these are not to be taken on a long-term basis and should be taken only on advice from the doctor. The side effects due to these medicines may include high blood pressure, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, etc.
Immunosuppressants- These medicines will cut down the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting disease. However, due to this action, these medicines may also pose an increased risk of infections. Examples of these medicines include cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, etc.
Some other medications may also be used for the treatment of paraneoplastic syndrome-
Anti-convulsants-these may help in controlling the seizures in a paraneoplastic syndrome that are caused due to malfunctioning electrical activity in the brain
Other treatment methods for paraneoplastic syndrome may include-
- A mechanism known as a cell separator is used to separate plasma from the blood cells
- The plasma is discarded and the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are returned to the body since plasma contains the undesired antibodies
- The process is pretty much similar to dialysis
- Also known as IVIg, in this process, a significant dosage of immunoglobulin is given intravenously in the body
- As immunoglobulin contains healthy antibodies, it accelerates the destruction of undesired antibodies in the blood
Some other therapies for paraneoplastic syndrome may prove to be of help. These may include-
If there is a difficulty in speaking or swallowing, a speech therapist may help in overcoming this problem
A physical therapist may help in restoring the function of damaged muscles
Coping With Paraneoplastic Syndrome
Education and programs about coping skills have benefitted many people with cancer. Your health care professionals’ team can guide you through this. It is advisable to acquire as much knowledge about the paraneoplastic syndrome as possible. The more you know about your condition, the more you will feel capable of handling the situation. There are many support groups out there that have people with similar conditions as members. Being a part of such groups can mean you can seek answers to your questions, and you overcome your fear. You can be a member of such groups offline as well as online.
Paraneoplastic syndromes are a cluster of some rare diseases that affect some of the people suffering from cancer. These syndromes affect various systems in the body like the nervous and hormonal system, the circulatory system, joints, skin, etc. Paraneoplastic syndromes do not have any cure at present. The best treatment regime aims at treating underlying cancer through various methods including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, medicines, etc. and reducing the symptoms. This may prevent or at least delay the onset of many complications and reduce the extent of damage, thereby improving the quality of life.