Stroke and cancer: a review

Acta Neurol Scand. 2009 Jan;119(1):1-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2008.01059.x.


Stroke is a disabling disease and can add to the burden of patients already suffering from cancer. Several major mechanisms of stroke exist in cancer patients, which can be directly tumour related, because of coagulation disorders, infections, and therapy related. Stroke can also occur as the first sign of cancer, or lead to its detection. The classical literature suggests that stroke occurs more frequently in cancer patients than in the average population. More recent studies report a very similar incidence between cancer and non-cancer patients. However, there are several cancer-specific types and causes of stroke in cancer patients, which need to be considered in each patient. This review classifies stroke into ischaemic, haemorrhagic, cerebral venous thrombosis and other rarer types of cerebrovascular disease. Its aim is to identify the types of stroke most frequently associated with cancer, and give a practical view on the most common and most specific types of stroke. The diagnosis of the cause of stroke in cancer patients is crucial for treatment and prevention. Management of different stroke types will be briefly discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Female
  • Hematoma, Subdural / etiology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / etiology
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Stroke / prevention & control