What is the relationship between small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS)?

Updated: May 23, 2019
  • Author: David E Stickler, MD; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE  more...
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Answer

Because LEMS may lead to early detection of SCLC, prognosis of SCLC in patients with SCLC-LEMS is better than in SCLC without LEMS. Patients with SCLC who develop LEMS possibly have a more effective immunologic response to the cancer, which results in improved survival. A more rapid clinical course is more frequent in patients with SCLC-LEMS.

When LEMS has been symptomatic for at least 2 years and no underlying cancer has been demonstrated, the LEMS was probably caused by an autoimmune process. At that point, prognosis is determined by severity of dysfunction and the presence and severity of other autoimmune conditions.


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