Welcome to the NEW Abramson Cancer Center Paraneoplastic Neurologic Disorders Website
Last updated on September 22, 2008
It is a great pleasure to write this message. When I started working at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania 7 years ago, I had several goals for the upcoming years. One was to establish a central repository of specimens from patients all over the world. These specimens would be available to scientists studying Paraneoplastic Neurologic Disorders (PND) so that we could make the advances in the lab that could translate to help in the clinic. I wanted to establish a clinical center of excellence where patients with PND could be diagnosed and treated. Although increasingly recognized, there are still many patients whose PND go undiagnosed for long periods of time, leading not just to frustration on the patient’s part, but delay in treatment that can affect outcome. There was clearly a need for a website where patients, families and physicians could find the information they needed and happily, that time has come.
This is an exciting time of new discoveries in the field of PND. The first clinical descriptions of some paraneoplastic disorders were written over 100 years ago. At that time physicians were able to describe neurological problems in patients with cancer but they had no understanding of the relationship between the two problems. It was not until the early 1970s that we began to understand that there was a relationship between the cancer and the neurological problems, but cases were considered infrequent and almost a medical curiosity. In the mid 1980’s the identification of specific antibodies in patient’s blood and cerebrospinal fluid allowed the rapid diagnosis of PND for some disorders. With over 100 years of clinical descriptions and the advances of the past 30 years one might think there would be little left to discover. Well, the past 5 years have proven that to be wrong. During this time we have uncovered several new paraneoplastic disorders and discovered new antibodies to facilitate diagnosis. We have also learned that some of these disorders can be treated successfully especially if they are promptly and correctly diagnosed.
Advances in understanding PND are only useful to patients if those advances make it to the clinic. We hope that this website will serve as a central resource for patients, families and physicians.