Autoantibodies in paraneoplastic syndromes associated with small-cell lung cancer
Carcinoma, Small Cell
Central Nervous System Diseases
An antineuronal autoantibody has been identified in serum from 14 patients, 8 women and 6 men, with small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and a neurologic disorder. Neurologic symptoms began prior to diagnosis of the SCLC in 12 patients. The dominant neurologic disorder was a subacute sensory neuronopathy (SSN) in eight patients, SSN plus lower motor neuron weakness (2 patients), SSN plus autonomic neuropathy (1 patient), cerebellar ataxia (1 patient), myelopathy (1 patient), and multifocal nervous system disease (encephalomyelitis) in one patient. The presence of the same autoantibody in patients with SSN, encephalomyelitis, and autonomic neuropathy suggests that these diseases are different manifestations of the same nosologic process. With one exception, treatment of the tumor, immunosuppressive drugs, and plasmapheresis did not influence the course of the neurologic illness. The autoantibody was not identified in sera from more than 400 controls subjects, including patients with SSN associated with other tumors, SSN without malignancy, other paraneoplastic syndromes, and SCLC without neurologic symptoms. The autoantibody is a highly specific marker of the paraneoplastic syndromes associated with SCLC and its detection in a patient not known to have cancer should prompt a careful search for SCLC.