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Best Exercises/Activities For Paraneoplastic Syndrome Patients

Paraneoplastic syndromes are triggered by an abnormality in the immune system in response to an unidentified tumor in the body. These syndromes are usually neurologic and can interfere with various body functionalities. They may include; difficulty speaking, walking, and even swallowing, loss of motor coordination, vision problems, as well as memory loss. The best way to manage paraneoplastic syndrome is via the treatment of underlying cancer. After that, treatments to manage, control and reduce the neurological implications of paraneoplastic syndromes can be put into play. In terms of curability, the paraneoplastic syndrome cannot be cured, but treatment can help with progressive improvement of neurological impairments.[1]

Best Exercises/Activities For Paraneoplastic Syndrome Patients

What exercises or activities can you do if you have a paraneoplastic syndrome? For patients with paraneoplastic syndromes, the ideal exercises or activities to engage in are those that will help improve their conditions. Additionally, the exercises/activities can help patients regain lost functionality in affected areas. Speech therapy, for example, is a good start off point for those with difficulties speaking (slurred speech). If one has lost fine motor control or experiences muscle weakness, physical therapy to regain muscle function, as well as motor improvement, should be considered.[2]

Patients with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome experience symptoms of muscle weakness in the proximal part of the arms and legs. These are muscles closer to the trunk. Also, myasthenia gravis causes muscle weakness, but more of the legs than arms. As a result, patients with either of the two usually have difficulties climbing stairs and rising from a sitting position.[3] In a 62-year old patient who was found to have small cell lung cancer had atactic gait and speech. In addition to that, he had symptoms of ataxia, dysarthria, and dysmetria. After chemotherapy and radiation treatment for the tumor, he underwent rehabilitation and physical therapy involving balance, coordination, as well as gait exercises. Improvement was seen in speech, motor improvement as he was able to walk a longer distance with a double tripod. For Dysarthria, he has oro-motor strengthening exercise to alleviate the symptom.[4]

General, physical activities and exercise are good for you, not only physically, but also health wise. Therefore, everyone, even those with paraneoplastic syndromes can benefit from various exercises and activities. You do not necessarily have to get to the gym, but you can do the exercises at the comfort of your home and at your own pace. In cases of paraneoplastic syndromes, vigorous activities may not be ideal, but moderate to low engaging exercise can be helpful. The best kind of exercises for paraneoplastic syndrome patients may include aerobic and strength building activities. In particular, for those with muscle weakness and motor problems. [5]

Treatment For Paraneoplastic Syndromes

The treatment plan for paraneoplastic syndromes involves treating underlying cancer first. Other than that, immunosuppressive medication may be prescribed to help manage the immune response the body exhibits, as a result of the tumor, which brings about paraneoplastic syndromes. Further, into the treatment plan, the ideal treatment will also depend on the form of paraneoplastic syndrome you are suffering from. Generally speaking, though, treatment will include medication – chemotherapy drugs for the tumor and immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants e.g. azathioprine (Imuran), and cyclophosphamide.

In other cases, where there is brain degradation involving seizure, antiseizure medication will be administered. On the other hand, for individuals with motor function problems and loss of muscle functionality, medication to enhance nerve to muscle transmission will be crucial in improving the symptoms. Plasmapheresis, which is a process that separates the fluid part of the blood (plasma), and replacing back the red and white blood cells and new fluid that does not have unwanted antibodies, is yet another treatment option which can help alleviate symptoms. Also, intravenous immunoglobulin can be offered so as to speed up the destruction of the antibodies in your blood, causing damage to your body.[2]


The best exercises and activities for patients with paraneoplastic syndrome are those that help reduce their symptoms. For those with speech problems including slurred speech, speech therapy should be considered. In cases of motor problems, muscle strengthening and physical therapy need to be included so as to help the patient recover their muscle and motor functionality. At the end of the day, the idea is to make the life of the patient better and cultivate them to cope with their condition.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 8, 2019

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