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Isolated knee monoarthritis heralding resectable non-small-cell lung cancer. A paraneoplastic syndrome not previously described
  1. Fabrizio Cantini1,
  2. Laura Niccoli1,
  3. Carlotta Nannini1,
  4. Daniela Chindamo1,
  5. Michele Bertoni1,
  6. Emanuele Cassarà1,
  7. Carlo Salvarani2
  1. 1
    Hospital Misericordia a Dolce, Prato, 2nd Division of Medicine and Rheumatology Unit, Prato, Italy
  2. 2
    Division of Rheumatology, Hospital S. Maria Nuova, Reggio Emilia, Italy
  1. Dr Fabrizio Cantini, Hospital of Prato, 2nd Division of Medicine and Rheumatology Unit, Piazza Ospedale 1, 59100 Prato, Italy;fcantini{at}


Objective: To describe isolated knee monoarthritis as a paraneoplastic syndrome heralding non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and to discuss its clinical characteristics.

Methods: Clinical records of all consecutive, new outpatients with isolated knee monoarthritis observed from January 2000 to December 2005 were reviewed. A systematic review of Medline and Cochrane Library databases was performed to identify English-language articles related to rheumatological paraneoplastic syndromes associated with NSCLC.

Results: Over 6 years, 6654 new outpatients with different rheumatic disorders were observed. Of these, 296 (4.4%) presented with isolated monoarthritis of the knee. In five out of 296 patients (1.7%) this feature represented the initial manifestation of NSCLC. All five patients were middle-aged men, with a long history of heavy cigarette smoking, who had a non-erosive, isolated knee monoarthritis, with mild articular fluid collection of non-inflammatory type. NSCLC was resectable in all patients, and knee monoarthritis remitted with no relapse confirming its paraneoplastic nature. All five patients are in good condition after a median follow up of 41 months. The literature review revealed that paraneoplastic knee monoarthritis has not previously been reported.

Conclusion: Knee monoarthritis may in some cases represent a paraneoplastic syndrome heralding NSCLC at an early stage.

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  • Abbreviations:
    Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy
    non-small-cell lung cancer
    small-cell lung cancer