Meningeal carcinomatosis is the tumoral invasion of the leptomeninges. It is caused by the spread of malignant cells throughout the subarachnoid space, which produces signs and symptoms due to multifocal involvement. Cranial nerve symptoms are the most common focal findings. The diagnosis is usually made by imaging and/or cytology. Head and neck cancers are the cause of approximately 2% of all cases of meningeal carcinomatosis; in very rare cases, they are caused by a nasopharyngeal carcinoma. We report a case of meningeal carcinomatosis that was caused by a recurrence of undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The patient, a 60-year-old woman, experienced no focal neurologic symptoms and exhibited no radiologic evidence of meningeal involvement. We also review the literature on meningeal carcinomatosis secondary to nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Meningeal carcinomatosis arises as a consequence of the spread of malignant cells throughout the subarachnoid space. It is usually seen in patients with melanoma or carcinoma of the breast or lung.1 Nasopharyngeal carcinoma rarely metastasizes to the meninges despite their anatomic proximity to each other.2