Cancer and stroke: frequency, cancer types and associations with clinical outcomes


The project aims to investigate how common cancer may be as a cause of stroke, and whether cancer-related strokes are associated with worse clinical outcomes compared with patients who have suffered a non-cancer related stroke.


Traditional causes of stroke include problems with the heart, such as an irregular heartbeat, damage to the small vessels of the brain termed ‘small vessel disease’, and large vessel disease – usually narrowing of the carotid arteries (the main blood vessels in the neck).

It is not uncommon for patients presenting at hospital with a stroke to be found to have an underlying cancer on further testing. However, to date there has been limited research on how common cancer is associated with stroke, and how this affects a patient’s recovery.

Additionally, it is unclear how doctors should treat patients with a cancer-related stroke. For example, it is unknown whether treatments used for other causes of stroke work as effectively.


The research team seek to establish how common cancer-related stroke is and whether people with cancer-related stroke have worse clinical outcomes than people with other causes for their stroke.

They will achieve this by looking back at all the stroke patients in the PIONEER database, to establish how many people had a cancer found on the same admission as the stroke, how many had a previous history of cancer and then had their stroke, and how many were found to have a cancer within 3 months of their initial stroke.

They will compare the clinical outcomes of these people with people with stroke without a diagnosis of cancer.

The results of this research will help inform future studies, which will seek to improve outcomes for people with cancer-related strokes.


The researchers have discussed the study with patients who have a cancer-related stroke, who will continue to work with the research team as part of this study.


This project was supported unanimously by the PIONEER Data Trust Committee.

This work is led by Dr Jason Appleton, Consultant Neurologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

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