Objective: To describe the clinical and laboratory features and outcome of 6 patients presenting with remitting seronegative symmetrical synovitis with pitting edema (RS3PE) revealing a solid tumor.
Methods: Patients with RS3PE who presented with a solid tumor and who had been seen between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1996, were included in a retrospective multicenter analysis. These patients fulfilled McCarty's description of RS3PE and the following criteria: (1) bilateral pitting edema of both hands, (2) sudden onset of polyarthritis, (3) age >50 years, and (4) absence of rheumatoid factor (RF).
Results: Six male patients with RS3PE are described, of mean age 74 years (range 72-78), presenting prostatic (n = 4), gastric (n = 1), and colic (n = 1) adenocarcinomas. The clini cal picture was characterized by the classical form of RS3PE syndrome and by a deterioration in general condition, sometimes with fever. All patients were negative for RF and antinuclear antibodies. In 2 cases of prostatic adenocarcinoma serum levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) were high, but decreased with treatment. In these 6 patients, the articular manifestations regressed totally or partially in response to corticosteroids, sometimes at low doses, associated in most cases with specific antitumoral therapy. None displayed erosion or distal bone destruction. The mean survival following discovery of RS3PE was 11 months (range 6-18), 5 patients dying of metastatic dissemination of their cancer and the 6th of myocardial infarction.
Conclusion: RS3PE is a heterogeneous syndrome that can reveal a solid tumor, notably an adenocarcinoma. There exist no specific criteria to define its forms, but this syndrome should be kept in mind in the face of a deterioration in general health. Although the pathogenic mechanism is unknown, this could involve a type of paraneoplastic polyarthritis linked to the synthesis of a factor such as IL-6.