Brain damage following prophylactic cranial irradiation in lung cancer survivors

Marta Simó, Lucía Vaquero, Pablo Ripollés, Josep Jové, Rafael Fuentes, Felipe Cardenal, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, Jordi Bruna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-term toxic effects of prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) on cognition in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients have not yet been well-established. The aim of our study was to examine the cognitive toxic effects together with brain structural changes in a group of long-term SCLC survivors treated with PCI. Eleven SCLC patients, who underwent PCI ≥ 2 years before, were compared with an age and education matched healthy control group. Both groups were evaluated using a neuropsychological battery and multimodal structural magnetic resonance imaging. Voxel-based morphometry and Tract-based Spatial Statistics were used to study gray matter density (GMD) and white matter (WM) microstructural changes. Cognitive deterioration was correlated with GMD and Fractional Anisotropy (FA). Finally, we carried out a single-subject analysis in order to evaluate individual structural brain changes. Nearly half of the SCLC met criteria for cognitive impairment, all exhibiting a global worsening of cognitive functioning. Patients showed significant decreases of GMD in basal ganglia bilaterally (putamen and caudate), bilateral thalamus and right insula, together with WM microstructural changes of the entire corpus callosum. Cognitive deterioration scores correlated positively with mean FA values in the corpus callosum. Single-subject analysis revealed that GMD and WM changes were consistently observed in nearly all patients. This study showed neuropsychological deficits together with brain-specific structural differences in long-term SCLC survivors. Our results suggest that PCI therapy, possibly together with platinum-based chemotherapy, was associated to permanent long-term cognitive and structural brain effects in a SCLC population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-295
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Cognitive deterioration
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Prophylactic cranial irradiation
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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