Background: POEMS syndrome is a monoclonal plasma cell disorder characterized by polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and skin changes. Rare reports of pulmonary manifestations of POEMS syndrome such as pulmonary hypertension exist; however, a comprehensive review of the pulmonary manifestations of POEMS syndrome is lacking.
Methods: Retrospective review of patients with a diagnosis of POEMS syndrome at our institution between 1975 and 2003. Demographics, signs and symptoms, test findings (ie, radiographs, pulmonary function tests, and echocardiography), and survival data were extracted. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was performed. In addition, categoric variables were compared using the Pearson χ2 test or Fisher exact test, where appropriate.
Results: The study comprised 137 patients (66% male) with a mean age of 51.6 years. Respiratory symptoms were common within 2 years of diagnosis (28%). The median overall survival time was 147 months. Pulmonary manifestations of POEMS syndrome included pulmonary hypertension, restrictive lung disease, respiratory muscle weakness, and an isolated diminished diffusing capacity. Significant radiographic findings such as pleural effusions, diaphragm elevation, and increased cardiac silhouette were seen in 23% of patients. When separated by the presence or absence of respiratory muscle weakness, the median survival time was 87 vs 139 months, respectively (p < 0.05). The presence of cough was associated with reduced survival time.
Conclusions: Pulmonary manifestations of POEMS are common, and both symptomatic and asymptomatic respiratory involvements are frequent on presentation in patients with POEMS syndrome. Respiratory muscle weakness and cough portend a poorer prognosis. These results suggest the need for increased awareness of the association between POEMS syndrome and pulmonary disease to guide appropriate screening and supportive therapy.