Neurotoxicity is a potential complication of combined chemotherapy and whole-brain radiotherapy in long-term survivors of carcinoma. Clinical features of this neurotoxicity are similar to those manifested in the leukoencephalopathy of pediatric patients with leukemia who have been treated prophylactically with whole-brain radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Magnetic resonance imaging, because of its ability to distinguish cortical gray matter and white matter and its utility for studying demyelinating diseases, was used in the assessment of five long-term survivors of carcinoma who had clinical evidence of neurotoxicity. On magnetic resonance examinations, all five patients had profound abnormalities in the periventricular white matter. These changes were considerably more pronounced than those seen on computed tomographic scanning. Thus, magnetic resonance imaging may serve as a useful procedure for early detection of neurotoxicity in patients with carcinoma who have received cerebral radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
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