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Brain Imaging Behav. 2013 Dec;7(4):409-35. doi: 10.1007/s11682-012-9220-1.

Diffusion tensor MRI of chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment in non-CNS cancer patients: a review.

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Radiology, University Hospital Leuven & Department of Imaging and Pathology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium,


Patients with non-central nervous system cancers often experience subtle cognitive deficits after treatment with cytotoxic agents. Therapy-induced structural changes to the brain could be one of the possible causes underlying these reported cognitive deficits. In this review, we evaluate the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for assessing possible therapy-induced changes in the microstructure of the cerebral white matter (WM) and provide a critical overview of the published DTI research on therapy-induced cognitive impairment. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal DTI studies have demonstrated abnormal microstructural properties in WM regions involved in cognition. These findings correlated with cognitive performance, suggesting that there is a link between reduced "WM integrity" and chemotherapy-induced impaired cognition. In this paper, we will also introduce the basics of diffusion tensor imaging and how it can be applied to evaluate effects of therapy on structural changes in cerebral WM. The review concludes with considerations and discussion regarding DTI data interpretation and possible future directions for investigating therapy-induced WM changes in cancer patients. This review article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Neuroimaging Studies of Cancer and Cancer Treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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