Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis: ovarian cancer presenting as an amnesic syndrome

Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Nov;104(5 Pt 2):1174-7. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000128110.31784.c8.


Background: Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis (PLE) is a rare neurologic manifestation of malignancy. Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis typically presents with short-term memory loss, seizures, or other limbic system abnormalities. The majority of PLE cases are associated with lung and testicular cancer.

Case: We present the first case of PLE attributable to an epithelial ovarian cancer. The 58-year-old woman presented with rapidly progressing short-term memory loss and amnesia. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer was suspected on the basis of computed tomography scan findings. The patient showed dramatic clinical improvement within 2 weeks of debulking surgery and after the initiation of plasmapheresis and chemotherapy.

Conclusion: Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis is a rare complication of ovarian tumors that is potentially reversible with prompt surgical management of the primary tumor, plasmapheresis, and chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / diagnosis*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / pathology*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Papillary / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Limbic Encephalitis / diagnosis*
  • Limbic Encephalitis / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ovariectomy / methods
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / therapy
  • Plasmapheresis / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome