Tags: Cancer | brain | cancer | radiation | memory | loss | thinking

Whole Brain Radiation: Treatment Worse Than Cure, Study Finds

By    |   Monday, 01 June 2015 12:53 PM

A new study has found whole brain radiation harms brain cancer patients’ memory, speech, and thinking skills — findings that could change how hundreds of thousands of people are treated each year for tumors that have spread to to the brain from other sites in the body.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, radiation therapy to the whole brain did not improve survival, but did cause significant cognitive side effects, Fox News reports.

"This is the classic question: Which is worse, the disease or the treatment?" said researcher Jan Buckner, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, noting radiation helped control the cancer, "but at the cost of cognitive decline."

The study was one of three presented over the weekend at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago that question longstanding ways that patients are treated. A second study found that removing lymph nodes when oral cancers are first diagnosed — which is not now routinely done — improves survival. Another found the opposite was true for people with the skin cancer melanoma that had spread to a few lymph nodes.

For the brain cancer study, Paul Brown, M.D., of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer in Houston tracked 213 patients with one to three tumors in the brain to see whether the risks of whole brain radiation were worth its help in controlling cancer.

Half of the patients had whole brain radiation. Three months later, 92 percent of patients who got the treatment had cognitive decline versus 64 percent of those given more narrowly focused radiation treatment, known as "stereotactic radio surgery."

"The negative effects far outweigh any benefits" of the combo treatment, Dr, Brown said.

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Radiation harms brain cancer patients' memory, speech, and thinking skills, according to new research that could change how hundreds of thousands of people are treated each year.
brain, cancer, radiation, memory, loss, thinking, cognitive
Monday, 01 June 2015 12:53 PM
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