Delirium in patients with cancer is associated with poor outcomes, but reversible causes need to be ruled out. We report the case of a 59-year-old woman who was presented with behavioural and cognitive changes over 2 weeks. She was non-verbal and combative, requiring involuntary admission and declaration of incompetence to make healthcare treatment decisions. Infectious and metabolic investigations and initial brain imaging were unremarkable. She was diagnosed with limited-stage small cell lung cancer and a paraneoplastic neuropsychiatric syndrome. Owing to the patient's delirium, chemotherapy delivery required pharmacological and physical restraints. After 2 cycles of chemotherapy, she could participate in the decision process and was discharged home. She completed radical chemo-radiotherapy and has remained free of disease progression for 18 months. Paraneoplastic neuropsychiatric syndromes, although rare, are potentially treatable and need to be excluded as a cause of delirium.
- case report
- small cell lung cancer
- Paraneoplastic syndrome
- Received 3 November 2015.
- Revision received 20 May 2016.
- Accepted 14 July 2016.
- Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/
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