The epidemiology of paraneoplastic neurological syndromes (PNS) remains to be defined. We present here the first population-based incidence study and report the clinical spectrum and antibody profile of PNS in a large area in Northeastern Italy.
We performed a 9-year (2009–2017) population-based epidemiological study of PNS in the provinces of Udine, Pordenone and Gorizia, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region (983,190 people as of January 1, 2017). PNS diagnosis and subgroups were defined by the 2004 diagnostic criteria. Age- and sex-adjusted incidence rates were calculated.
We identified 89 patients with a diagnosis of definite PNS. Median age was 68 years (range 26–90), 52% were female. The incidence of PNS was 0.89/100,000 person-years. PNS incidence rates increased over time from 0.62/100,000 person-years (2009–2011), 0.81/100,000 person-years (2012–2014) to 1.22/100,000 person-years (2015–2017). The prevalence of PNS was 4.37 per 100,000. Most common PNS were limbic encephalitis (31%), cerebellar degeneration (28%) and encephalomyelitis (20%). Among antibody (Ab)-positive cases, most frequent specificities included: Yo (30%), Hu (26%), and Ma2 (22%), while the most frequent associated tumors were lung (17%) and breast cancer (16%), followed by lymphoma (12%). PNS developed in 1 in every 334 cancers in our region. Statistically significant associations were observed between cancer type and Ab-specificity (P < 0.001), and between neurological syndrome and Ab-specificity (P < 0.001).
This first population-based study found an incidence of PNS that approximates 1/100,000 person-years and a prevalence of 4/100,000. Moreover, the incidence of PNS is increasing over time, probably due to increased awareness and improved detection techniques.
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All procedures were performed in accordance with the institutional ethics committee and the Declaration of Helsinki.
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Vogrig, A., Gigli, G.L., Segatti, S. et al. Epidemiology of paraneoplastic neurological syndromes: a population-based study. J Neurol 267, 26–35 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-019-09544-1
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