Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

In 2002 I was told I had Dupuytren's contracture of the hand. I was treated and got better slightly but never fully recovered. Now two years later I find out I really have something called palmar fasciitis from lung cancer. How could the doctor have missed the cancer all this time?

Answer:

Hand symptoms caused by cancer can look just like one of several forms of arthritis. This is common when there are no other symptoms of any kind to suggest a more serious problem.

Sometimes the tumor gives off hormones and other chemicals that affect the body far from the site of the tumor. When this happens the patient might get a skin rash, joint pain and stiffness, fever, or other vague symptoms. This is part of a syndrome called a paraneoplastic syndrome.

Diagnosis can be delayed months to years. It isn't until the treatment fails to improve the patient's symptoms or the cancer gets much worse that a correct diagnosis can be made. Paraneoplastic syndromes are rare and unusual so the medical staff can be fooled easily.

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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