Paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes – the NET effect

Paraneoplastic syndromes are a group of rare disorders that are triggered by an abnormal immune system response to a cancerous tumour known as a “neoplasm.”

Paraneoplastic syndromes are thought to happen when cancer-fighting antibodies or white blood cells (known as T cells) mistakenly attack normal cells in the nervous system. These disorders typically affect middle-aged to older people and are most common in individuals with lung, ovarian, lymphatic, or breast cancer. Neurologic symptoms generally develop over a period of days to weeks and usually occur prior to the tumor being discovered.

These symptoms may include difficulty in walking or swallowing, loss of muscle tone, loss of fine motor coordination, slurred speech, memory loss, vision problems, sleep disturbances, dementia, seizures, sensory loss in the limbs, and vertigo or dizziness. Paraneoplastic syndromes include Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, stiff-person syndrome, encephalomyelitis, myasthenia gravis, cerebellar degeneration, limbic or brainstem encephalitis, neuromyotonia, opsoclonus, and sensory neuropathy.

There’s a paper from 2010 which has outlined some of these issues in relation to NETs (A type of Neoplasm). Some of the NET epidemiological info is out of date in the paper but the research is interesting. They suggest that paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes are a secondary complication with certain types and certain hormones. Many of these connections are already known, such as Cushing’s syndrome, hypercalcemia, hypoglycaemia. But it can be the knock-on effects of these conditions which can potentially lead to other issues discussed.

Thanks for reading

Ronny

Kaltsas, G., Androulakis, I., de Herder, W., & Grossman, A. (2010). Paraneoplastic syndromes secondary to neuroendocrine tumours, Endocrine-Related Cancer, 17(3), R173-R193.  Retrieved Jul 28, 2020, from https://erc.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/erc/17/3/R173.xml
Kaltsas, G., Androulakis, I., de Herder, W., & Grossman, A. (2010). Paraneoplastic syndromes secondary to neuroendocrine tumours, Endocrine-Related Cancer, 17(3), R173-R193. Retrieved Jul 28, 2020, from https://erc.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/erc/17/3/R173.xml

One thought on “Paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes – the NET effect

  • Theresa

    Ronny,
    I’m happy to see this. While my NETS are sleeping, I have had many other issues, aka autoimmune like, and was put on low dose steroids to keep things calm. I spent 3 years post surgery miserable and searching for newest all awhile thinking the NETS were the issue.
    The rheumatologist suggested paraneoplastic syndrome could be a possibility.
    Seems to be a catch all diagnosis however it gives a direction to keep issues under control, at least for me. Currently going down the path of myasthenia Gravis for the 4th time. But I think I just have a super immune system that is keeping the NETs at bay.
    I look forward to reading more. Thanks, Theresa

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