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Radiotherapy, Cognitive Decline Linked in Glioma

-- Andrea Mongler

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Low-grade glioma patients who receive radiotherapy are at an increased risk of declining attentional functioning in the long term, regardless of fraction dose, according to a study in the September issue of The Lancet Neurology.

Linda Douw, Ph.D., of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues previously studied 195 patients with low-grade glioma a mean of six years after diagnosis and concluded that only high fraction dose radiotherapy resulted in significant added cognitive deterioration. In the present study, they had 65 of those patients complete a neuropsychological follow-up a mean 12 years after they were first diagnosed.

The researchers found that patients who received radiotherapy had more cognitive deficits affecting attentional functioning, regardless of fraction dose, than those who did not receive radiotherapy. Patients who had radiotherapy also did more poorly in measures of information processing speed and executive functioning than they did in the previous assessment. Their attentional functioning deteriorated significantly between the two assessments. The authors further note that 53 percent of patients who had radiotherapy developed cognitive deficits in at least five neuropsychological test parameters, compared with 27 percent of patients who did not have radiotherapy.

"Long-term survivors of low-grade glioma who did not have radiotherapy had stable radiological and cognitive status. By contrast, patients with low-grade glioma who received radiotherapy showed a progressive decline in attentional functioning, even those who received fraction doses that are regarded as safe (less than or equal to 2 Gy)," the authors write.

The study was funded by Kaptein Fonds and Schering Plough.

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