Advancements in the Treatment of Cerebrovascular Complications of Cancer

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Current Treatment Options in Neurology


Purpose of review: To present the new guidelines and therapeutic options regarding cerebrovascular complications of cancer, mainly ischemic stroke, cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), and leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LMC). Recent findings: A temporal trend study (2019) revealed that clinicians are still reluctant to apply thrombolysis to cancer patients, although two new studies (2018) reported no increased mortality. Several clinical trials on direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) showed their superiority or, at least, non-inferiority compared with low molecular weight heparins in the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) (2018–2019). These trials helped in formulating the new guidelines that are being published and the decisions made for cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT) as a whole. A new DOAC antidote was also officially released (US 2018, Europe 2019). Summary: Thrombolysis is safe in a malignancy setting, thus cancer per se should not be considered a contraindication for thrombolysis. Clinical trials assessing the newest DOACs for cancer-associated arterial thrombosis are scarce; however, based on data from VTE studies, the newest DOACs seem to be safe for CAT in patients that are not in high risk of bleeding or suffering from certain malignancies. The treatment should not be ceased after 6 months, but rather continued as long as the cancer remains active. Decompressive craniectomy should maintain its place in patients with CVST in risk of herniation. Last, the future also holds much promise on the role of novel compounds to be used in LMC.

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