Population-based epidemiologic data for paraneoplastic neurologic syndromes (PNSs) in the United States are lacking. Our objective was to evaluate the incidence, prevalence, and associated morbidity of PNS.
We performed a population-based epidemiology study in Olmsted County, Minnesota, with patients identified between January 1, 1987, and December 31, 2018, using the medical records linkage system of the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) who met the definite/probable 2021 PNS criteria and 2004 PNS criteria. Patients with dermatomyositis and myasthenia gravis with underlying tumors were included. Age- and sex-specific population counts were obtained from REP resources for January 1, 2014 (prevalence denominator) and annually for 1987–2018 (incidence denominator). Morbidity was estimated using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs; years lived with disability [YLD] plus years of life lost [YLL]).
There were 28 patients with PNS identified (50% female) residing in Olmsted County, Minnesota, with median age at diagnosis of 54.5 (IQR 46.5–69.0) years. All patients had a cancer diagnosis, and 18 (64%) patients were neural autoantibody positive including antineuronal nuclear autoantibody type 1 (ANNA-1/anti-Hu; n = 1), ANNA-2/anti-Ri (n = 1), muscle-type acetylcholine receptor (AChR; n = 6), Purkinje cell cytoplasmic antibody type 1 (PCA-1/anti-Yo; n = 1), kelch-like protein 11 (KLH11; n = 3), collapsin response mediator protein 5 (CRMP-5/anti-CV2; n = 2), α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptor (n = 1), neurofilament light chain (n = 1), leucine zipper 4 (LUZP4; n = 1), and unclassified neural antibodies (n = 1). PNS incidence was 0.6/100,000 person-years and increased over time from 0.4/100,000 person-years (1987–2002) to 0.8/100,000 person-years (2003–2018) (p = 0.06). Prevalence was 5.4/100,000 people. The median follow-up period after PNS diagnosis was 3.1 years (IQR, 1.1–9.9 years). Total disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 28 patients with PNS were 472.7 years, based on total years of life lost (YLL) for patients dying between 1987 and 2018 (n = 15) of 445.3 years plus years lived with disability (YLD) 27.4 years.
PNSs are rare neurologic disorders but are associated with severe morbidity and mortality. The estimated number of prevalent PNS cases in the United States is 17,099, and predicted DALY for all US PNS cases is 292,393 years. Their apparent increasing rate of detection is attributable to increasing physician awareness and availability of serologic testing.