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Chemotherapy. 2013;59(5):385-6. doi: 10.1159/000360616. Epub 2014 May 13.

Human herpesvirus 6 encephalitis simulating brain metastases in a patient with advanced small-cell lung cancer.

Author information

1
Dipartimento Oncologia-Ematologia, Ospedale Guglielmo da Saliceto, Piacenza, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The brain is a frequent site of metastases in small-cell lung cancer. Symptoms of cerebral involvement are headache, disorientation, nausea/vomiting and seizures.

CASE:

A man with small-cell lung cancer developed a human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) meningoencephalitis with neurological symptoms that simulated brain involvement from the lung cancer. HHV-6 is a T cell lymphotropic virus which may be pathogenic in the immunocompromised host. HHV-6 remains latent after the first infection, and when the immune system is compromised it can reactivate. The treatment of HHV-6 infection is highly specific and the drugs recommended are the two antivirals, ganciclovir or foscarnet.

CONCLUSION:

In cancer patients neurologic symptoms are usually due to brain metastases. This case shows that in a cancer patient any aspecific neurologic symptom should be carefully evaluated in order to exclude a non-oncologic cause. This statement is particularly true if the therapies for the oncological and neurological diseases are effective.

PMID:
24852190
DOI:
10.1159/000360616
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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