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Arch Neurol. 2003 Apr;60(4):563-8.

Cognitive performance and magnetic resonance imaging findings after high-dose systemic and intraventricular chemotherapy for primary central nervous system lymphoma.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.



Long-term neurotoxicity is a frequent complication of combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy in patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. Treatment protocols without radiotherapy have been implemented to avoid this; however, little detailed neuropsychologic and neuroradiologic data exist to assess the frequency of long-term treatment sequelae in this patient group.


To determine whether a polychemotherapy regimen based on high-dose methotrexate results in cognitive impairment and/or changes detectable by magnetic resonance imaging of the brain during long-term follow-up.


Twenty patients with histologically proven primary central nervous system lymphoma were treated with a novel chemotherapy protocol that included systemic and intraventricular administration of methotrexate and cytarabine (ara-C). Standardized neuropsychologic testing and magnetic resonance imaging investigations were performed prior to therapy and prospectively during a median follow-up period of 36 months (range, 21-69 months).


Ten patients achieved durable remissions without relapse for more than 1 year after completion of chemotherapy. There was no gross cognitive decline in any of these patients during the follow-up period. In contrast, magnetic resonance imaging revealed therapy-induced white matter changes in 5 of these patients.


We conclude that chemotherapy alone is associated with a low risk of long-term neurotoxicity in primary central nervous system lymphoma. Methotrexate-induced white matter lesions detectable on magnetic resonance imaging are not inevitably associated with significant cognitive decline.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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