Neurologic complications of lung cancer

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7 Scopus citations


Neurologic complications of lung cancer are a frequent cause of morbidity and mortality. Tumor metastasis to the brain parenchyma is the single most common neurologic complication of lung cancer, of any histologic subtype. The goal of radiation therapy and in some cases surgical resection for patients with brain metastases is to improve or maintain neurologic function, and to achieve local control of the brain lesion(s).Metastasis of lung cancer to the spinal epidural space requires urgent evaluation and treatment. Early diagnosis and modern surgical and radiotherapy techniques improve neurologic outcome for most patients. Leptomeningeal metastasis is a less common but ominous occurrence in patients with lung cancer. Lung carcinomas can also occasionally metastasize to the brachial plexus, skull base, dura, or pituitary.Paraneoplastic neurologic disorders are uncommon but important complications of lung carcinoma, and are generally the presenting feature of the tumor. Paraneoplastic disorders are believed to be caused by an autoimmune humoral or cellular attack against shared "onconeural" antigens. The most frequent paraneoplastic disorders in patients with lung cancer are Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, and multifocal paraneoplastic encephalomyelitis, both mainly occurring in association with small-cell lung carcinoma. There is a variety of other paraneoplastic disorders affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems. Some affected patients have a good neurologic outcome, while others are left with severe permanent neurologic disability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-361
Number of pages27
JournalHandbook of Clinical Neurology
StatePublished - 2014


  • Brain metastases
  • Lung carcinoma
  • Meningeal neoplasms
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes
  • Spine neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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