Paraneoplastic syndromes affecting the nervous system

Semin Oncol. 2006 Jun;33(3):270-98. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2006.03.008.


The paraneoplastic neurologic disorders (PND) are a diverse group of diseases characterized by the presence of neurologic dysfunction in the setting of a remote cancer. PND can affect almost any part of the nervous system, and are most commonly associated with lung cancer (small cell) and gynecologic tumors. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that an autoimmune response links the neurologic disorder and the cancer, and established a model whereby the cancer is believed to initiate the syndrome by expressing a protein antigen normally expressed in the nervous system, leading to anti-tumor immune response followed by autoimmune neurologic symptoms. We review the currently known PND and their pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / complications
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / complications
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction Diseases / etiology
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / etiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology


  • Autoantibodies