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Radiotherapy linked to mental decline in brain cancer survivors

Doses of radiotherapy given to brain cancer patients that were thought to be safe could cause a gradual mental decline, a report has said.

Patients suffering with the most common form of brain tumour, low-grade glioma, are often treated with radiotherapy. The new research shows a mental decline in patients over a period of 12 years, compared to the previous findings which were carried out over six years.

Of those treated with radiotherapy, over half suffered a mental decline, compared to the 27% who experienced similar problems who had not been treated in this way. Radiotherapy patients were found to process information slower, as well as have poorer executive and attentional functioning.

The report, which has been published in the journal The Lancet Neurology and was led by Linda Douw from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, stated: ‘The current results indicate that radiotherapy is associated with long-term cognitive deterioration, regardless of fraction dose.’

Careful consideration should be carried out before admitting low-grade glioma sufferers for radiotherapy, the report concluded.


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