Cancer causes many well-known symptoms, but a rare potential complication of the disease can develop if the body begins attacking itself. Paraneoplastic syndromes occur when defenses turn against healthy cells instead of fighting the neoplasm or abnormal growths. The result is a cascading list of side effects that range from disconcerting to morbid. This reaction may be an individual's first noticeable warning of cancer or develop spontaneously with no known cause. Either way, paraneoplastic syndromes are complex manifestations with various categories, combinations, and effects.
One category of paraneoplastic syndromes is the endocrine type, which can create cross-reactive responses; neoplasms secrete hormones, peptides, and cytokines that trigger a response that looks like metastasis. While these secretions can occur at any stage, when they do show up in people with malignant cancers, they generally indicate a poor survival rate.
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