A 54-year-old female with small volume residual stage III ovarian cancer had received two courses of carboplatin chemotherapy with obvious response, when she developed rapidly progressive neurological symptoms. Over a period of 48 h, an incapacitating syndrome of ataxia, nystagmus and dysarthria evolved. Central nervous system metastases were excluded by computed tomography scanning and cerebrospinal fluid cytology. Anti-Purkinje cell antibodies (‘anti-Yo’) detected in the serum confirmed the diagnosis of paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration.
Isolated reports have suggested that the clinical course of this condition can be ameliorated with high dose steroids and plasmapheresis. However, in this case the very early introduction of both these did not bring about any improvement in the patient's symptoms. She remained severely incapacitated and unable to care for herself for the remaining 15 months of her life. The patient died of progressive ovarian cancer that had become clinically evident 10 months after the onset of neurological symptoms.
This case illustrates many of the classical features of this rare condition, and the world literature is reviewed.
- ovarian cancer
- paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration
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