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Varna Medical Forum

Neurotoxicity of cancer agents

Nikolay Conev, Ivan Shterev, Rostislav Manev, Eleonora Dimitrova, Dragomir Stoyanov, Yаvor Kashlov, Chavdar Bachvarov, Georgi Todorov, Stanimir Sirakov, Kameliya Bratoeva


Neurotoxic side effects of chemotherapy occur frequently and are often a reason to limit the dose of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy dosing is often limited due to a frequently occurring side effect of the treatment - neurotoxic. The risk of neurotoxicity is increased by the possibility of higher dose usage, since bone marrow toxicity (the major limiting factor in most chemotherapeutic regimens) can be overcome with growth factors or bone marrow transplantation.

Chemotherapy may cause both peripheral neurotoxicity, consisting mainly of a peripheral neuropathy, and central neurotoxicity, ranging from minor cognitive deficits to encephalopathy with dementia or even coma. Neurotoxicity caused by the chemotherapy can be of two types - peripheral, mainly consisting of peripheral neuropathy and central, from minor cognitive deficits through encephalopathy with dementia to even coma.

Data management and neuroprotective agents are still in discussion and there are no current accepted guidelines yet. Management mainly consists of cumulative dose-reduction or lower dose-intensities, especially in patients who are at higher risk to develop neurotoxic side effects. None of the specific neuroprotective agents can be recommended in daily practice for standard use at the moment, and further studies are needed to confirm their beneficial effects.


neurotoxicity; chemotherapy; cancer

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