MASCC Neurological Complications Study Group


Chair: Maryam Lustberg, MD, MPH, United States (MASCC President Elect)
Vice-Chair: Kathryn J. Ruddy, MD, MPH, United States

For more information or to contact Study Group Leaders, see our contact page.


Since the birth of oncology as a distinct medical discipline, oncologists have considered myelosuppression and its attendant problems to be the dose-limiting and most important toxicities of radiation and chemotherapy. Within the last decade, however, the availability of colony-stimulating factors, and dramatic improvements in transfusion medicine, antibiotic therapy, and supportive care have made the bone marrow more robust. Today, a strong case can be made that the nervous system has replaced the bone marrow as the most important dose-limiting end organ for cancer therapy. Similarly, for the growing number of cancer survivors, the nervous system rather than the hematopoietic system more frequently affects the quality of survival and the economic productivity of survivors. At the same time, longer survival, more effective systemic therapies, and the relative inaccessibility of the nervous system to these therapies has resulted in a steady increase in the frequency of direct nervous system involvement by non-nervous system cancer.

All components of the central and peripheral nervous system are susceptible to injury by cancer therapy. Among the most prominent targets are the brain (resulting in cognitive impairment, neuroendocrine dysfunction, depression, anxiety, and social disintegration) and the peripheral nerves (resulting in neuropathy). The brain, spinal epidural space and leptomeninges are all common nervous system targets for metastatic spread of tumor and subsequent neurologic compromise.


The guiding purpose of the Neurologic Complications Study Group is to raise awareness within the healthcare community and among patients and advocacy groups about the frequency, importance, and complexity of these problems. To accomplish this goal, the group initiates and supports collaborative research designed to expand our knowledge of the nature, treatment, and prevention of neurologic complications. This group also serves as a resource for information about these problems and develops evidence-based guidelines. Because these issues have only recently garnered attention from the academic community, research on  their characteristics, risk factors, and frequency is limited.


The Study Group was formed to focus on the following objectives:

  • To develop reliable assessment tools
  • To assess internationally potential variation in the significance of neurological complications
  • To survey members’ opinions and needs regarding neurological complications 
  • To contribute program content to MASCC meetings and practical resources to the MASCC website

Because these problems are important to all patients with cancer, a multidisciplinary approach is essential. In particular, this study group promotes close collaboration with the Psychosocial Oncology and the Rehabilitation and Survivorship Study Groups.

2020 Pre-Conference Workshop

Standards and New Technologies for the Monitoring and Management of Patient-Reported Toxicities during Active Treatment and Follow-up

Chairs: Corina van den Hurk, PhD, and Sangeeta Agarawal RN, MS, CAS
This workshop will address current and best practices for monitoring and management of patient-reported symptoms and will evaluate the emerging role of technology in this area. Speakers will review current practices, demonstrate new technologies, and discuss ways to guide patients in symptom self-management. Small-group discussions will consider such topics as new therapies, toxicities, and tools, guidelines, and management strategies from the perspective of such fields as dermatology, neurology, and geriatrics. Other topics will include multidisciplinary coordination and management, emerging themes, supportive care models, and opportunities for international collaboration. In addition, there will be a live demonstration of the latest technological advances in this area, including the use of artificial intelligence, chatbots, and virtual reality walkthroughs. The workshop will conclude with the generation of an outline for a paper on guidelines and a framework for incorporating technological advances for monitoring and management of patient-reported toxicities in daily clinical practice.
This workshop represents a collaboration between three MASCC Study Groups: Geriatrics, Neurological Complications, and Oncodermatology. It will take place on Thursday, June 25, from 8:00 to 11:00 am. Workshop attendance requires registration in addition to registration for the Annual Meeting. Register at the official 2020 Annual Meeting website.

Past Workshop

Cancer-Related Cognitive Impairment. MASCC/ISOO Annual Meeting, Adelaide, Australia, 2016.

Research Highlight

Docetaxel-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Breast Cancer Survivors
Lise Eckhoff and her colleagues have conducted research on docetaxel-induced neuropathy among Danish women with early-stage breast cancer, confirming that women with chemotherapy-induced PN received significantly lower cumulative doses of chemotherapy. In other work, Eckhoff et al. have found support for the theory that oxidative stress is involved in docetaxel-induced PN.They have also investigated the persistence of docetaxel-induced neuropathy and its impact on quality of life among breast cancer survivors.  >> Read More

Ongoing Research

Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy Research Projects of MASCC Neurologic Complications Study Group Members
Differential Gene Expression in Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy alt
Project Status: 14 patients analyzed (before and after chemotherapy); recruiting more patients (June 2012)

Recent Member Publications

Recent Study Group member publications related to neurological complications in patients with cancer.


Toxic Neuropathy Consortium (TNC)

For more information or to contact Study Group Leaders, see our contact page.