Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)

Case Report

Late-onset leukoencephalopathy induced by long-term chemotherapy with capecitabine and cyclophosphamide for liver metastasis from breast cancer

Shunji Yasaki, M.D., Ph.D., Yuko Tukamoto, M.D., Naoki Yuasa, M.D., Ph.D., Tatuya Ishikawa, M.D., Ph.D. and Fumihito Yoshii, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Neurology, Tokai University Oiso Hospital

A 55-year-old woman with a 3-year and 4-month history of liver metastasis from breast cancer underwent chemotherapy with capecitabine and cyclophosphamide for following 10-months. She did not have hypertension and was not pregnant. She showed dysarthria and mild somnolence, and her conscious level developed to semicoma after 6 days. She had pyrexia. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) demonstrated increased cell-count and elevated protein but no evidence of positive cytological finding and cultivation of bacteria was found in the CSF. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed multiple lesions with hyperintensity in the brain stem, bilateral middle cerebellar peduncles, left splenium of corpus callosum, bilateral basal ganglia, bilateral thalami, bilateral corona radiata, and bilateral subcortical white matters of parietal lobes on the T2 weighted and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images. These lesions demonstrated mild hyperintensity on the diffusion weighted images but did not demonstrate hypointensity on the T1 weighted images. Capecitabine and cyclophosphamide were discontinued at 4th day after onset of symptoms, and her conscious disturbance showed improvement slowly since day 12 after cessation of these drugs and hyperintensity areas detected on FLAIR image of MRI showed decreasing intensity after three weeks of onset. Capecitabine is an oral prodrug converted to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). 5-FU and cyclophosphamide are known to induce leukoencephalopathy. Reversible multiple lesions with leukoencephalopathy on brain MRI which is called as a posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES). Capecitabine is also reported to induce PRES in rare cases. Combination of these drugs was considered for the possible cause to induce leukoencephalopathy like PRES. Usually leukoencephalopathy occurs in relatively early time after start of chemotherapy with capecitabine or cyclophosphamide, but we consider that late-onset leukoencephalopathy can be induced by long-term chemotherapy with these drugs. It is necessary to observe leukoencephalopathy by brain MRI regularly when these drugs are used.
Full Text of this Article in Japanese PDF (468K)

(CLINICA NEUROL, 52: 251|256, 2012)
key words: breast cancer, capecitabine, cyclophosphamide, leukoencephalopathy, MRI

(Received: 26-Sep-11)