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vol. 47
Letter to the Editor

An usually disseminated advanced cancer presenting only as mild rheumatological symptoms

Reumatologia 2009; 47, 1: 48
Online publish date: 2009/04/01
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JabRef, Mendeley
Papers, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Zotero
It is well known that several neoplasms produce signs and symptoms that mimic diseases of the musculoskeletal system [1]. These syndromes are known as paraneoplastic syndromes. In some cases, the symptoms and signs of the syndrome are the first detectable features of the neoplasm. In the majority of cases, the paraneoplastic syndrome develops in an advanced stage of the malignant disease. In such cases, there is no difficulty in diagnosis because the other features of the neoplastic disease are easily detectable. The aim of the present letter is to report an unusual case of a patient with relatively mild musculoskeletal symptoms despite very advanced disseminated cancer.
A 78-year-old male was admitted to the hospital due to back pain, decrease in body mass (about 6 kg during half a year) and migrating pains of the joints of the lower extremities. He had no severe disorders in his history but 20 years before admission he had suffered from a myocardial infarction, and currently had slight symptoms of ischaemic heart disease. Seventeen years before admission, he had been operated on due to enlargement of the prostate. The pains appeared slowly and were detectable about 2 months before the admission. Physical examination revealed the following abnormalities: cutaneous changes on the front part of the thorax in the form of popular small, hard infiltrations. The liver was enlarged and hard at palpation. In the navel a small tumour mass was visible, which looked like a small umbilical hernia. The musculoskeletal system was typical for mild osteoarthrosis typical for the age of the patient, and no significant abnormalities were detected at rheumatological physical examination.
Imaging investigations, including computer tomography of the abdomen and thorax, revealed a tumour within the eighth segment of the left lung and massive dissemination of metastases. The metastases were detectable in the ribs, subcutaneous tissue of the chest, liver, spleen, periaortal nodes, suprarenal glands, and retroperitoneal space. Biopsy of the navel tumour revealed adenocarcinoma. The tumour in the lung was considered as the primary site of malignancy. It was consistent with the patient’s smoking history. He was a heavy smoker for numerous years but he discontinued smoking after the myocardial infarction. Upon the request of the patient, he was discharged home. He died at home two weeks later after a two-day-long coma, probably due to the brain...

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