What is a paraneoplastic syndrome?
A neoplasm is an abnormal growth in your body that may be cancerous. If something is “neoplastic,” it has to do with the neoplasm. A paraneoplastic syndrome is a set of symptoms that are caused by a cancer. The symptoms happen in a different area of your body from your cancer.
Most people with cancer don’t get a paraneoplastic syndrome.
Paraneoplastic syndromes are caused by your cancer making hormones or your immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more making antibodies (substances that protect your body against certain infection) that flow through your blood
Paraneoplastic syndromes cause different symptoms depending on the tissues and organs they occur in
About 1 out of 5 people with cancer get a paraneoplastic syndrome—it's most common with lung cancer Lung Cancer Lung cancer is cancer that starts in your lungs. Cancers that start growing in other organs may spread (metastasize) to the lungs. Cancers that have spread to your lungs aren't really considered... read more
What are the symptoms of paraneoplastic syndromes?
Loss of appetite
Skin flushing or blushing, causing your face, neck, or upper chest to become warm and red
You may get noncancerous skin bumps or shingles (a painful rash of fluid-filled blisters caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox)
Neurologic (brain, spinal cord, and nerve) symptoms
Weakness or loss of strength
Loss of feeling
Trouble using different parts of your body the way you want, such as your arms or legs
Double vision (when you see 2 of the same object) or being unable to control your eye movements
The cancer can cause these symptoms without pushing on your nerves or spinal cord.
Endocrine (hormone system) symptoms
High blood pressure or heart valve problems
Red, warm skin
Muscle swelling that causes weakness and soreness
Painful swelling of your joints that may change the shape of your fingers and toes
Changes to your blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets)