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Radiotherapy 'can affect brain'

Source PA News

Updated on 10 August 2009

Low "safe" doses of radiotherapy may contribute to progressive mental decline in brain cancer patients, according to new research.

Radiotherapy is a widely-used treatment for low-grade glioma, the most common form of brain tumour.

Previous research has associated both the therapy and the cancer itself with mental impairment over a period of six years.

But questions remain over the effect of radiotherapy on long-term brain tumour survivors.

For the new study, 65 patients were assessed - an average of 12 years after treatment.

Researchers carried out tests of attention, executive functioning, verbal memory, working memory, psychomotor functioning and information processing speed.

In total, more than half the patients who were given radiotherapy had suffered a mental decline compared with 27% of those who were not.

Overall, radiotherapy patients had poorer attentional and executive functioning, and were slower at information processing.

The researchers - led by Linda Douw, from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands - reported their findings in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

They wrote: "The current results indicate that radiotherapy is associated with long-term cognitive deterioration, regardless of fraction dose."

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