Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration in a patient with chemotherapy-responsive ovarian cancer
  1. M. McCRYSTAL*,
  2. N. E. ANDERSON,
  3. R. W. JONES and
  4. B. D. EVANS*
  1. *Department of Clinical Oncology, Auckland Hospital
  2. Neurology Department, Auckland Hospital
  3. National Women's Hospital and Greenlane Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Address for correspondence: Dr B. D. Evans, Department of Clinical Oncology, Auckland Hospital, New Zealand.


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

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.