Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis

M E Farrugia, R Conway, D J Simpson, K M Kurian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis (PLE) is a rare neurological consequence of a variety of cancers, most commonly originating from lung, breast and testis. The aetiology is believed to be immune-mediated, caused by tumour-induced autoimmunity launching an attack against one's own central nervous system. The patient may present with amnesia, depression, anxiety, seizures and/or personality changes. The onset of these symptoms may precede the diagnosis of malignancy by a period of up to 2 years. The malignancy may be occult and unless the syndrome is recognised, it may fail to be detected. The diagnosis of PLE is suggested by the clinical picture, MRI evidence of mesial temporal lobe abnormality and CSF abnormalities such as the presence of oligoclonal bands. It may be further supported by the presence of paraneoplastic antibodies in the serum. Immunosuppression has been tried in some cases but memory impairment is often irreversible. There are several case reports in the literature of paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis but few emphasise the resulting impact that this may have on the patient's quality of life and their carers. The accompanying amnesia is often far more distressing to the carers, who are aware of the limitations of treatment of the underlying malignancy. Hospices offer the appropriate palliative environment for such patients as well as physical and psychological respite to the carers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-31
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Fatal Outcome
  • Limbic Encephalitis
  • Humans
  • Hospice Care
  • Middle Aged
  • Female


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