Health Questions and Answers

Question: What are the neuromuscular complications of cancer?


Site Paraneoplastic Syndrome Autoantibodies (Associated Cancer)
Brain and cranial nerves Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration Anti-Yo (GYN cancer)
Anti-Hu (SCLC)
Anti-Tr (HD)
Anti-Ri (breast cancer)
Opsoclonus-myoclonus (breast cancer) Anti-Ri
Carcinoma-associated retinopathy
Optic neuritis
Anti-recoverin (SCLC)
Limbic encephalitis Anti-Hu (SCLC)
Brain stem encephalitis Anti-Hu (SCLC)
Spinal cord Myelitis Anti-Hu (SCLC)
Subacute motor neuronopathy Anti-Hu (SCLC)
Motor neuron disease/ALS Anti-Hu (rarely)
Necrotizing myelopathy
Stiff-man syndrome Anti-amphiphisin (breast, SCLC)
Peripheral nerves and dorsal root ganglia Subacute or chronic sensorimotor neuropathy
Acute polyradiculopathy (GBS)
Neuropathy associated with plasma cell dyscrasias Anti-MAG
Brachial neuritis
Mononeuritis multiplex
Sensory neuronopathy
Autonomic neuronopathy
Neuromuscular junction Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome Anti-VGCC
Myasthenia gravis Acetylcholine receptor Ab
Muscle Dermatomyositis/polymyositis
Acute necrotizing myopathy
Carcinoid myopathy
Neuromyotonia Ab to potassium channels
These syndromes frequently occur together as part of paraneoplastic encephalomyelitis/sensory neuronopathy with anti-Hu antibody.
GYN = gynecologic, SCLC = small cell lung cancer, HD = Hodgkin’s disease, ALS = amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
MAG = myelin-associated glycoprotein, Ab = antibody, VGCC = voltage-gated calcium channel, GBS = Guillain-
Barré syndrome,
From Schiff D, et al: Neurologic emergencies in cancer patients. Neurol Clin 16:449-481, 1998, with permission.

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