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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 13

of 'Adjuvant therapy for resected stage III (node-positive) colon cancer'

Cerebral demyelination syndrome in a patient treated with 5-fluorouracil and levamisole. The use of thallium SPECT imaging to assist in noninvasive diagnosis--a case report.
Savarese DM, Gordon J, Smith TW, Litofsky NS, Licho R, Ragland R, Recht L
Cancer. 1996;77(2):387.
BACKGROUND: The use of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and levamisole in patients with Stage III adenocarcinoma of the colon has now become standard. There have been several reports of a multifocal cerebral demyelination syndrome following 5-FU and levamisole administration.
METHODS: We describe a patient who developed focal neurologic symptoms while being treated with levamisole and 5-FU in whom the diagnosis of central nervous system (CNS) metastases was considered.
RESULTS: A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan showed a diffuse, multifocal white matter process. Diagnostic evaluation did not support a diagnosis of CNS metastasis. 201Thallium chloride single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) study was cold. A stereotactic brain biopsy disclosed demyelination but not tumor. The patient had complete functional resolution of symptoms with 1 month of dexamethasone therapy, although follow-up MRI scans have shown persistent abnormality on T2-weighted images.
CONCLUSIONS: In patients receiving 5-FU and levamisole who develop focal neurologic symptoms with an abnormal MRI scan, the diagnosis of CNS metastasis should not be made without a thorough diagnostic evaluation. We suggest the use of 201thallium chloride SPECT imaging to support the diagnosis of multifocal leukoencephalopathy related to 5-FU and levamisole. In atypical cases, a stereotactic brain biopsy may be required for confirmation.
Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester 01655, USA.