Poems Syndrome

1 What is POEMS Syndrome?

A rare blood disorder which damages your nerves and affects many other parts of the body is a called POEMS syndrome and its symptoms are:

  • Polyneuropathy – the tingling, numbness and weakness in your legs or in your hands and difficulty in breathing;
  • Organomegaly – enlarged spleen, lymph nodes and liver;
  • Endocrinopathy – underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), sexual problems, diabetes, swelling in your limbs, fatigue, problems with metabolism because of abnormal hormone levels;
  • Monoclonal plasma-proliferative disorder – plasma cells that produces monoclonal proteins;
  • skin changes – more color and thicker skin with increases in facial or leg hair.

These signs and symptoms are like of the other disorders and this can be fatal. There is no cure for POEMS syndrome but there are ways to improve the symptoms such as chemotherapy, peripheral blood stems cell transplant and radiation therapy.

2 Symptoms

POEMS syndrome stands for these signs and symptoms:

  • Polyneuropathy – you may experience weakness, pain, numbness or tingling in the affected area,
  • Organomegaly – enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) and enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy),
  • Endocrinopathy – affects the endocrine system,
  • Monoclonal gammopathy – also known as plasma cell dyscrasias is the uncontrolled growth of a single clone of a certain type of cell,
  • Skin abnormalities – darkening of the skin or excessive hair growth or sclerosis.

3 Causes

There is no known cause of POEMS syndrome.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The criteria for the diagnosis of POEMS syndrome require that all of the following are present:

  • polyneuropathy,
  • a monoclonal plasma cell proliferative disorder,
  • one or two of the following major criteria such as:
    • sclerotic bone lesions,
    • Castleman’s disease
    • elevated VEGF levels.
  • One or more of the following minor criteria such as:
    • organomegaly,
    • extravascular,
    • endocrinopathy,
    • skin changes,
    • thrombocytosis,
    • papilloedema.

First your doctor will conduct a physical exam to check and identify the symptoms. He will ask about your family history.

5 Treatment

POEMS syndrome is treated depending on the underlying plasma cell disorder.

There are medications such as:

  • corticosteroids,
  • low-dose alkylators
  • peripheral blood stem cell transplant,
  • sometimes chemotherapy.

The use of radiation therapy and surgery may be possible. Chemotherapy is used for those with widespread osteosclerotic lesions or diffused bone.

6 Prevention

Because the cause of POEMS syndrome is unknown therefore there is no prevention for having POEMS syndrome.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

There are no homeopathic or alternative medicines for POEMS syndrome.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Coping with POEMS syndrome is hard because there is still no cure or this.

You can ask your family and friends to support you or you can contact a counselor or a support group near your area so that you can seek advice from them and they can help you cope with POEMS syndrome.

9 Risks and Complications

The risk factors of having POEMS syndrome include:

  • gender: mostly in men than in women;
  • age: the onset for men is 48 years old while in women is 59 years of age;
  • more prevalent in Japan even though there’s lack of evidence.