Most people with paraneoplastic syndrome experience neurological problems before having any indication of cancer or receiving a cancer diagnosis. Therefore you're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor about your symptoms. You may then be referred to a specialist in nervous system disorders (neurologist) or a cancer specialist (oncologist).
Questions from your doctor
If you have any of these symptoms, it will be helpful to bring a friend or family member to your appointment. Your doctor may ask the following questions:
- Have you had any muscle weakness or lack of coordination?
- Have you had any unusual or involuntary muscle movements?
- Have you had any vision problems?
- Do you have any problems chewing, swallowing or speaking?
- Do you have any difficulty breathing?
- Have you had any seizures? How long have they lasted?
- Have you experienced dizziness or nausea?
- Do you have trouble sleeping, or have your sleep patterns changed?
- Are you having difficulty performing everyday tasks with your hands?
- Have you had any numbness or tingling in your limbs?
- Have you had a significant change in mood?
- Have you been seeing or hearing things that others are not aware of?
- Have you had any memory problems?
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have your symptoms become worse?
- Have you been diagnosed with cancer?
- What medications do you take, including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements? What are the daily dosages?
- Have any close relatives had cancer? If so, what types?
- Have you ever smoked?
- Do you or does anyone in your family have some form of autoimmune disease?
Questions for your doctor
Questions you may want to ask your doctor:
Apr. 30, 2014
- What diagnostic tests will you order?
- Which specialists will I need to see?
- How soon am I likely to complete the tests and get results?
- How will you communicate results to me?
- What are you looking for in the tests?
- What conditions are you trying to rule out?
- NINDS paraneoplastic syndrome information page. National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paraneoplastic/paraneoplastic.htm. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 15, 2013.
- Pelosof LC, et al. Paraneoplastic syndromes: An approach to diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:838.
- Giometto B, et al. Treatment for paraneoplastic neuropathies (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.10.0b/ovidweb.cgi?&S=BOJHFPHGIFDDNBEPNCNKNAIBLMNOAA00&Link+Set=S.sh.18%7c1%7csl_50. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Titulaer MJ, et al. Screening for tumours in paraneoplastic syndromes: Report of an EFNS Task Force. European Journal of Neurology. 2011;18:19.
- Graus F, et al. Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes. Current Opinion in Neurology. 2012;25:795.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014.
https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 15, 2013.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 15, 2013.
- Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 15, 2013.
- van Sonderen A, et al. Paraneoplastic syndromes of the neuromuscular junction: Therapeutic options in myasthenia gravis, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, and neuromyotonia. Current Treatment Options in Neurology. 2013;15:224.
- Tarin D. Update on clinical and mechanistic aspects of paraneoplastic syndromes. Cancer Metastasis Review. 2013;32:707.
- Schramm N, et al. Detection of underlying malignancy in patients with paraneoplastic neurological syndromes: Comparison of 18F-FDG PET/CT and contrast-enhanced CT. European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. 2013;40:1014.
- NINDS dysautonomia information page. National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dysautonomia/dysautonomia.htm. Accessed Jan. 22, 2014.
- NINDS Isaac's syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/Isaacs_syndrome/Isaacs_syndrome.htm. Accessed Dec. 18, 2013.
- Dalmau J, et al. Overview of paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec.18, 2013.
- Pittock SJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 14, 2010.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2013-2014. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/neurology-and-neurosurgery. Accessed Dec. 30, 2013.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2013-2014. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/pediatric-rankings/neurology-and-neurosurgery. Accessed Dec. 30, 2013.
- Lachance DH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 15, 2014.
- Eisen A. Disorders affecting the spinal cord. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 23, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.