Incidence of ischemic stroke post-chemotherapy: a retrospective review of 10,963 patients

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2006 Feb;108(2):150-6. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2005.03.008. Epub 2005 Apr 25.


Objective: Vascular occlusion is not an uncommon event in malignancy. However, the frequency of ischemic stroke after chemotherapy has been mentioned only occasionally in clinical studies. A large-scale study is lacking.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to analyze the incidence of ischemic stroke post-chemotherapy, further, to evaluate a possible causative relationship between the ischemic stroke and the chemotherapy regimen, the interval between the latest chemotherapy session and onset of ischemic stroke and the survival of patients with ischemic stroke post-chemotherapy. The data were retrieved from the Cancer Database from 1993 to 2004.

Results: During this period, a total of 10,963 patients, with malignancies were followed-up for 1 month after chemotherapy, underwent 45,294 chemotherapy sessions. Among this group, there were 15 patients experiencing 16 ischemic strokes within the first month after the latest chemotherapy. Among them, 14 patients were followed-up until death and one patient was lost in follow-up after discharge against medical advice. The incidence of post-chemotherapy ischemic stroke was 0.137% and the frequency of chemotherapy cycles complicated by ischemic stroke was 0.035%. Adenocarcinoma was the most common histological type not only in ischemic stroke (40%) but also in overall patients (36.7%). The hemispheric stroke with middle cerebral artery territory involvement was the most common image finding. Platinum compounds, especially cisplatin, were the most commonly used chemotherapeutic agents for ischemic stroke patients. Twelve (75%) of these 16 ischemic strokes occurred within 10 days of the latest chemotherapy session and 10 (62.5%) occurred after the first cycle of chemotherapy. The median survival after ischemic stroke was 4 weeks.

Conclusion: Our results provide valuable data on the relationship between malignancy, treated with chemotherapy, and ischemic stroke. The risk of ischemic stroke after chemotherapy is predicted by the use of cisplatin-based chemotherapy not cancer histologic type. Infarction usually involves the territorial subtype, causes obvious neurological disabilities and carries a grave prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology*
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / etiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents