Paraneoplastic Syndromes from Head to Toe: Pathophysiology, Imaging Features, and Workup

Mohamed Badawy, Margarita V. Revzin, Nikita Consul, Moataz Soliman, Dhakshina M. Ganeshan, John C. Heymann, Ayman H. Gaballah, Brinda Rao Korivi, Ajaykumar C. Morani, Sanaz Javadi, Khaled M. Elsayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients often have symptoms due to the mass effect of a neoplasm on surrounding tissues or the development of distant metastases. However, some patients may present with clinical symptoms that are not attributable to direct tumor invasion. In particular, certain tumors may release sub-stances such as hormones or cytokines or trigger an immune cross-reactivity between malignant and normal body cells, resulting in characteristic clinical features that are broadly referred to as paraneoplastic syndromes (PNSs). Recent advances in medicine have improved the understanding of the pathogenesis of PNSs and enhanced their diagnosis and treatment. It is estimated that 8% of patients with cancer develop a PNS. Diverse organ systems may be involved, most notably the neuro-logic, musculoskeletal, endocrinologic, dermato-logic, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems. Knowledge of various PNSs is necessary, as these syndromes may precede tumor development, com-plicate the patient’s clinical presentation, indicate tumor prognosis, or be mistaken for metastatic spread. Radiologists should be familiar with the clinical presentations of common PNSs and the selection of appropriate imaging examinations. Many of these PNSs have imaging features that can assist with arriving at the correct diagnosis. Therefore, the key radiographic findings associated with these PNSs and the diagnostic pitfalls that can be encountered during imaging are important, as their detection can facilitate early identification of the underlying tumor, reveal early recurrence, and enable monitoring of the patient’s response to therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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