Indexed on: 05 Feb '15Published on: 05 Feb '15Published in: BioMed research international
Neoplastic meningitis is a central nervous system complication that occurs in 3-5% of patients with cancer. Although most commonly seen in patients with disseminated disease, in a small percentage of patients, it may be the initial manifestation of cancer or even primitive in origin. In the absence of cancer history, the diagnosis of neoplastic meningitis may be challenging even for expert neurologists. Prognosis is poor, with a median overall survival of weeks from diagnosis. In the retrospective study herein, we described three cases of meningeal melanomatosis in patients without previous cancer history. The patients were diagnosed with significant delay (17 to 47 weeks from symptom onset) mainly due to the deferral in performing the appropriate testing. Even when the diagnosis was suspected, investigations by MRI, cerebrospinal fluid, or both proved at times unhelpful for confirmation. Prognosis was dismal, with a median survival of 4 weeks after diagnosis. Our observations are a cue to analyze the main pitfalls in the diagnosis of neoplastic meningitis in patients without cancer history and emphasize key elements that may facilitate early diagnosis.