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February 1999

Paraneoplastic Neurological Syndromes: Paraneoplastic or Neurological?

Arch Neurol. 1999;56(2):151-152. doi:10.1001/archneur.56.2.151

THE TERM paraneoplastic is applied to any medical condition that is caused by, or can be associated with, a malignancy other than metastasis. Webster's dictionary defines para as beside, along-side of, or associated in a subsidiary or accessory capacity. Over the past 2 decades, distinct clinical neurological entities have emerged as being paraneoplastic; these syndromes, which may affect any part of the nervous system, include subacute cerebellar degeneration, limbic encephalitis, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, opsoclonus myoclonus, and others.1-3 Based on biological evidence, one could subdivide paraneoplastic neurological syndromes into 3 categories: (1) those whose pathogenesis is understood, (2) those that are linked to the tumor by biological data but whose pathogenesis is not yet elucidated, and (3) those (the majority) that cannot be linked to the malignancy by biological data.

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