Jefferson University HospitalsExperts from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson share that patient with high-grade gliomas who experienced early neurological toxicity during their treatment were likely to experience chronic neurological toxicity and reduced survival. Experts associated with the study reveal that with brain tumor patients starting to live longer due to modern therapeutics, treatment-related side effects become more significant.

In order to conduct this study experts used the RTOG database to classify 2,610 patients with high grade glioma who participated in clinical trials from 1983 to 2003. The toxicity and outcomes for all participants were analyzed. Experts observed that all patients received fractionated radiation therapy for the treatment of brain cancers. They identified 182 acute neurological toxicity events. A multivariate analysis revealed poor performance status and more aggressive surgery while poor neurological function and cognitive impairment were linked with increased acute neurological toxicity.

“Traditional cancer trials have emphasized tumor control as a means to increase overall survival. Our study emphasizes the association of treatment side effects with long-term outcomes. This novel finding is yet to be fully explained. The bottom line is that we have to be especially careful with patients who experience significant toxicity during treatment. Conversely, we can reassure those patients who have a smooth ride through radiation therapy that they are likely to do above average” shares Yaacov Lawrence, M.D., assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and colleagues at the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).

Scientists observed the link between chronic neurological toxicity and acute neurological toxicity. They also predicted an overall survival of 7.8 months for patients who faced acute neurological toxicity while patients who did not experience neurological toxicity survived for 11.8 months.

This study was presented at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago