Journal of Neurology

, Volume 243, Issue 5, pp 371–376

Carcinoma and the peripheral nervous system


  • Richard Hughes
    • Department of NeurologyUMDS, Guy's Hospital
  • Basil Sharrack
    • Department of NeurologyUMDS, Guy's Hospital
  • Robert Rubens
    • Division of Clinical OncologyUMDS, Guy's Hospital
ENS Review

DOI: 10.1007/BF00868994

Cite this article as:
Hughes, R., Sharrack, B. & Rubens, R. J Neurol (1996) 243: 371. doi:10.1007/BF00868994


An underlying carcinoma is an important differential diagnosis in peripheral neuropathy. While direct compression and infiltration of spinal roots or peripheral or cranial nerve trunks or branches can be identified easily when they occur in association with established malignancy, their diagnosis when they are presenting features may be difficult. In paraneoplastic sensory neuronopathy autoantibodies to neuronal antigens have become useful diagnostic markers for an underlying carcinoma, especially anti-Hu antibodies. Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that these antibodies form part of an autoimmune response which is responsible for the pathogenesis of some of these syndromes. Neuropathy appearing during the course of treatment of carcinoma may be due to radiation-induced damage or the neurotoxic effects of some chemotherapeutic agents. Neurotrophic factors are being investigated as a strategy for reducing the neurotoxic effects of these agents.

Key words

CarcinomaParaneoplastic syndromePeripheral neuropathy

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996