Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


My mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis that turned out to be ovarian cancer. Have you ever heard of this?


Yes, in a small number of cases cancer can present like arthritis. This is true for quite a few different kinds of cancer. The condition is called a paraneoplastic syndrome. Para means like. Neoplastic is another word for cancer. Syndrome refers to a group of symptoms.

In a recent study, the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, reported four cases of hand and arm symptoms that later turned out to be from ovarian cancer. There was a wide range of symptoms from pain and stiffness to actual contractures. Contractures are fixed positions of the joints so the patient can't fully flex or extend.

Most cases are finally diagnosed properly when the symptoms don't clear up as expected with treatment. Sometimes the cancer gets worse and the patient develops other symptoms to guide the doctor.

Edgar A. Martorell, MD, et al. Palmar Fasciitis and Arthritis Syndrome Associated with Metastatic Ovarian Carcinoma: A Report of Four Cases. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. July 2004. Vo. 29A. No. 4. Pp. 654-660.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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