Objective: To date, only a few series of patients with paraneoplastic arthritis have been published. The charts of patients with cancer-associated arthritis were collected in order to describe characteristics of this rheumatism.
Methods: A questionnaire was created for this study and validated by experts based on specific criteria of inclusion and exclusion. Histology of neoplasia was included.
Results: In all, 16 males and 10 females with a mean (range) age of 57.5 years (28–85) were recruited from 17 nationwide centres in France. Patients presented with symmetric polyarthritis involving wrists and hands (85%) and extra-articular symptoms were frequent (84%). There was no specific biologic or radiographic feature. The mean (range) delay between the diagnosis of rheumatism and neoplasia was 3.6 months (0–21.2). Tumours were usually diagnosed after articular symptoms occurred (88.5%). Twenty patients had a solid cancer, and six a haematological malignancy. Adenocarcinoma of the lungs was the most frequent type of solid cancer (60%). Tumours were diagnosed at an early stage, which may explain the good median survival of 1.21 years (range 0.64–present) with a mean follow-up of 1.9 years (range 0.16–10). The percentage of articular symptoms resolution was significantly higher in patients with solid tumours, as compared to patients with haemopathy (p = 0.007). In cases of tumour relapse, rheumatic symptoms did not recur for 75% of patients.
Conclusions: Underlying neoplasia should be considered in male patients with new onset polyarthritis, smokers, and particularly in patients chronically ill. Additional investigations should then be performed to diagnose cancer at an early stage.
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Competing interests: None declared