Paraneoplastic encephalitis: clinically based approach on diagnosis and management

Postgrad Med J. 2023 Jun 30;99(1173):669-678. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2022-141766. Epub 2022 May 19.


Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNSs) comprise a subset of immune-mediated nervous system diseases triggered by an underlying malignancy. Each syndrome usually shows a distinct clinical presentation and outcome according to the associated neural antibodies. PNSs generally have a subacute onset with rapid progression and severe neurological disability. However, some patients may have hyperacute onset or even show chronic progression mimicking neurodegenerative diseases. Updated diagnostic criteria for PNS have been recently established in order to increase diagnostic specificity and to encourage standardisation of research initiatives related to PNS. Treatment for PNS includes oncological therapy and immunomodulation to halt neurological deterioration although current treatment options are seldom effective in reversing disability. Nevertheless, growing knowledge and better understanding of PNS pathogenesis promise better recognition, earlier diagnosis and novel treatment strategies. Considering that PNSs provide a model of effective anticancer immunity, the impact of these studies will extend far beyond the field of neurology.

Keywords: Adult neurology; Neurological oncology; Neuropathology.

MeSH terms

  • Encephalitis* / diagnosis
  • Encephalitis* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neurology*