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Lymphoma and peripheral neuropathy: A clinical review

Authors

  • John J. Kelly MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, The George Washington University Medical Center, 2150 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
    • Department of Neurology, The George Washington University Medical Center, 2150 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA
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  • Donald S. Karcher MD

    1. Department of Pathology, The George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA
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Abstract

Lymphoma occasionally affects the peripheral nervous system. When it does, the diagnosis can be elusive since many patients present without known lymphoma. Most peripheral nerve complications are due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), which infiltrates nerves causing axonal damage. This disorder can affect nerve roots and cranial nerves, often associated with lymphomatous meningitis. NHL may also infiltrate peripheral nerves and cause plexopathy, mononeuropathy, or generalized neuropathy. These neuropathies may resemble an asymmetric mononeuropathy multiplex or a generalized disorder such as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. When NHL infiltrates diffusely, the term neurolymphomatosis is used. Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL), by contrast, rarely infiltrates nerves. More often, HL causes immunological disorders of the peripheral nervous system such as inflammatory plexopathy or Guillain–Barré syndrome. Other rare lymphomas such as intravascular lymphoma and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia can also affect peripheral nerves in specific ways. In addition, other malignant and nonmalignant lymphoproliferative disorders enter into the differential diagnosis of lymphomatous neuropathy. This review discusses the multiple peripheral nerve presentations of lymphoma from the clinician's point of view and provides a guide to the evaluation and diagnosis of these uncommon, challenging disorders. Muscle Nerve, 2005

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