Chronic Lyme Diagnosis Could Actually be Cancer, ALS

Share this content:

the Neurology Advisor take:

Chronic Lyme disease has long been a hotly debated topic, but now a new set of case reports is drawing even more concern from the medical community.

Christina Nelson, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues studied three cases in which patients that were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease actually had cancer. The report was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Chronic Lyme disease is a loosely defined diagnosis sometimes given to patients that present with a broad range of nonspecific symptoms including fatigue, joint pain, and abdominal pain. However, with no history of exposure and inconclusive 2-tier serologic testing, actual conditions may be going untreated.

In the report, the researchers studied the cases of three patients who were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, only to have further investigation reveal cancerous tumors, including a pituitary tumor, a stage IV mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma, and a lung tumor.

However, cancer isn’t the only condition that has been misdiagnosed as chronic Lyme disease. "We have heard of cases of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), MS (multiple sclerosis), and lupus and various other conditions that were misdiagnosed," Nelson told The Center for Investigative Reporting, according to MedPage Today.

While the researchers don’t suggest that every patient with nonspecific symptoms be evaluated for cancer, they stressed that the misdiagnosis and treatment of chronic Lyme can delay diagnosis of the actual underlying condition and create other adverse outcomes for patients. 

Man in pain
Chronic Lyme Diagnosis Could Actually be Cancer, ALS

Chronic Lyme disease has long been a disputed diagnosis among clinicians. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine sheds light on the underlying conditions, including cancer and neurological diseases, that are often misdiagnosed as chronic Lyme disease.

Christina Nelson, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues studied three cases in which patients that were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease actually had cancer. The loosely defined diagnosis is often given to patients with various nonspecific symptoms, including patients with no objective evidence of Lyme disease.

READ FULL ARTICLE From Jamanetwork
You must be a registered member of Neurology Advisor to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters

CME Focus