Some patients with advanced malignancies also have reversible catatonia or limbic encephalitis
Two potentially treatable disorders, paraneoplastic catatonia and paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis, may be hidden within the presentation of end stage cancer patients, because catatonia and limbic encephalitis usually feature severely altered mental status, confusion, anorexia, and minimal responsiveness that are also common with people dying of cancer. If catatonia and limbic encephalitis are correctly diagnosed and treated, there should be definite and dramatic improvement that would translate into better quality of life and perhaps even resumption of cancer therapy. This editorial reviews basic features of catatonia and limbic encephalitis, and then presents a strategy to systematically screen for these in end stage cancer patients who are about to enter hospice. A protocol is outlined that could be adapted for clinical practice or for designing clinical studies.
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