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Whole brain radiation increases risk of learning and memory problems in cancer patients
Date:9/22/2008

RS alone. Approximately four months after treatment, 49 percent of patients who received WBRT experienced a decline in learning and memory function compared to 23 percent in those patients who received SRS alone.

An independent data monitoring committee halted the trial after interim results showed the high statistical probability (96.4 percent) that patients randomized to SRS alone would continue to perform better.

M. D. Anderson researchers measured participants' neurocognitive function using a short battery of neuropsychological tests, with the primary endpoint being memory function as tested by the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test Revised. Patient performance that decreased more than a predefined criteria relative to their baseline were considered to exhibit a marked decline.

"This is a case where the risks of learning dysfunction outweigh the benefits of freedom from progression and tip the scales in favor of using SRS alone. Patients are spared from the side effects of whole brain radiation and we are able to preserve their memory and learning function to a higher degree" said Chang. "Here the research suggests patients who receive SRS as their initial treatment and then are monitored closely for any recurrence will fare better."

The study builds on previous research by senior author Christina A. Meyers, Ph.D., M. D. Anderson's chief of the Section Neuropsychology in the Department of Neuro-Oncology, examining neurocognitive function in patients with brain metastases treated with whole-brain radiation. "Unlike past studies comparing the two treatment strategies which did not use sensitive cognitive tests or closely follow patients after being treated with SRS, radiation oncologists in this trial were able to identify new lesions early and treat them with either radiosurgery, surgery, whole brain radiation or less commonly, chemotherapy," Meyers said. "We believe doctors and patients alike will favor this method over upfront w
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Contact: Lindsay Anderson
lindsay.anderson@gabbe.com
212-220-4444
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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