Good Gone Bad: Complications of Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, and Radiotherapy on the CNS

Kushanth S. Mallikarjun, Rami W. Eldaya, Michelle M. Miller-Thomas, Hilary L. Orlowski, Matthew S. Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


With recent advancements in cancer therapy, especially immunotherapy, overall survival of many cancers has increased and patient toxicity has been reduced. However, many complications of traditional cancer therapy are still prevalent and complications of novel therapies are just beginning to appear. The neuroradiologist may be the first to visualize signs of these complications on imaging. This article describes the notable imaging findings of several unique and characteristic complications of CNS cancer therapy, including toxicities of chemotherapies, immunotherapies, and radiotherapy. Complications of chemotherapeutic agents covered include methotrexate-induced and disseminated necrotizing leukoencephalopathy, and chemotherapy-induced myelopathy. Immunotherapy complications included are Tacrolimus-related Optic Neuropathy, Rituximab and Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome-associated Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, Bevacizumab-associated late radiation-induced neurotoxicity, and Ipilimumab-induced hypophysitis. Lastly, radiation-induced neurotoxicities are covered, including myelopathy, radiation necrosis, cerebral atrophy, leukoencephalopathy, optic neuropathy, mineralizing microangiopathy, stroke-like migraine attacks, osteonecrosis, and vasculopathies. Neuroradiologists will increasingly encounter patients who have undergone treatment with more than 1 therapeutic modality, resulting in overlapping findings as well. Recognition of the common complications of these therapies on imaging is critical to minimizing the effects of these potential short- and long-term complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Problems in Diagnostic Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


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