Rare case of Paraneoplastic Syndrome: Breast cancer mimics stroke symptoms, shows post-operation improvement – Times of India

Timely intervention led to a recovery in rare diseases. In a rare medical occurrence, a 43-year-old housewife residing in South Suburban Kolkata, otherwise healthy, experienced stroke-like symptoms that turned out to be linked to breast cancer. On March 24th, she began exhibiting symptoms including difficulty walking, slurred speech, and headaches, prompting concerns of a stroke. Medical professionals conducted numerous tests, including MRI and CT scans, but found no significant abnormalities in her brain.
As her condition worsened, doctors conducted further tests to detect rare neurological conditions. To their surprise, they discovered the presence of an Anti-Yo antibody, also known as an anti-Parkinson antibody, indicating a rare condition called Paraneoplastic Cerebellar Degeneration (PCD). This condition occurs when cancer cells, in this case, breast cancer, release chemicals that attack the brain and nervous system. PCD is exceptionally rare, with fewer than a hundred reported cases in medical literature.
Dr Soumen Das, overseeing the treatment, emphasised the rarity of this presentation of breast cancer. Interestingly, conventional stroke treatments did not alleviate the symptoms, highlighting the unique nature of PCD. However, with breast cancer treatment, there is hope for improvement in neurological symptoms.
Recently, the patient underwent breast cancer surgery at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Hospital. The surgical team, including Dr Soumen Das, Dr Kamalesh Rakshit, and Dr Rahul Agarwal, successfully performed the procedure. The anesthesia team, comprising Dr Sumitava Sardar, Dr Swagata Biswas, and Dr Atanu Biswas, ensured her safety throughout the surgery.
Post-surgery, the patient is on the path to recovery.
Paraneoplastic syndromes, while uncommon in breast cancer cases, can manifest due to the release of various chemicals from cancerous cells, leading to diverse symptoms. Paraneoplastic Cerebellar Degeneration is an exceptionally rare presentation of breast cancer, often mimicking stroke symptoms. Early diagnosis is crucial, as prompt treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery, can improve outcomes.
Dr Soumen Das highlighted the significance of a high index of suspicion in identifying PCD, especially in patients presenting with stroke-like symptoms and no brain abnormalities on imaging. With only 62 reported cases worldwide, this case underscores the importance of thorough investigation and early intervention in managing rare medical conditions.

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