Recent medical advances have improved the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of paraneoplastic syndromes. These disorders arise from tumor secretion of hormones, peptides, or cytokines or from immune cross-reactivity between malignant and normal tissues. Paraneoplastic syndromes may affect diverse organ systems, most notably the endocrine, neurologic, dermatologic, rheumatologic, and hematologic systems. The most commonly associated malignancies include small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, gynecologic tumors, and hematologic malignancies. In some instances, the timely diagnosis of these conditions may lead to detection of an otherwise clinically occult tumor at an early and highly treatable stage. Because paraneoplastic syndromes often cause considerable morbidity, effective treatment can improve patient quality of life, enhance the delivery of cancer therapy, and prolong survival. Treatments include addressing the underlying malignancy, immunosuppression (for neurologic, dermatologic, and rheumatologic paraneoplastic syndromes), and correction of electrolyte and hormonal derangements (for endocrine paraneoplastic syndromes). This review focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of paraneoplastic syndromes, with emphasis on those most frequently encountered clinically. Initial literature searches for this review were conducted using PubMed and the keyword paraneoplastic in conjunction with keywords such as malignancy, SIADH, and limbic encephalitis, depending on the particular topic. Date limitations typically were not used, but preference was given to recent articles when possible.
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