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Blood Rev. 2007 Nov;21(6):285-99. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

POEMS syndrome.

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Division of Hematology and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, United States.


POEMS syndrome is a rare paraneoplastic syndrome secondary to a plasma cell dyscrasia. Recognition of the complex of a combination of peripheral neuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal plasmaproliferative disorder, skin changes, papilledema, extravascular volume overload (peripheral edema, pleural effusions, ascites), sclerotic bone lesions, thrombocytosis, Castleman disease is the first step in effectively managing the disease. A rise in the blood levels of vascular endothelial growth factor is usually confirmatory. More than 95% of patients will have monoclonal lambda sclerotic plasmacytoma(s) or bone marrow infiltration. In patients with a dominant sclerotic plasmacytoma, first line therapy should include radiation to the lesion. Retrospective analysis and personal experience would dictate that systemic therapy be considered for patients with diffuse sclerotic lesions or absence of any bone lesion and for those who have not demonstrated stabilization of their disease 3 to 6 months after completing radiation therapy. For those patients with diffuse disease, systemic therapy is indicated. Useful approaches include therapy with corticosteroids, low dose alkylator therapy, and high dose chemotherapy with peripheral blood stem cell transplant. Until the pathogenesis is fully understood, these are the mainstays of treatment for patients with POEMS syndrome. The role of anti-VEGF therapies, immune modulatory drugs, and proteasome inhibitors has not yet been defined, but drugs with known high rates of treatment related neuropathy should not be considered as first line therapy.

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