The Impact of Stereotactic or Whole Brain Radiotherapy on Neurocognitive Functioning in Adult Patients with Brain Metastases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Eva Elisabeth van Grinsven, Steven H J Nagtegaal, Joost J C Verhoeff, Martine J E van Zandvoort

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background & Objectives: Radiotherapy is standard treatment for patients with brain metastases (BMs), although it may lead to radiation-induced cognitive impairment. This review explores the impact of whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) on cognition. Methods: The PRISMA guidelines were used to identify articles on PubMed and EmBase reporting on objective assessment of cognition before, and at least once after radiotherapy, in adult patients with nonresected BMs. Results: Of the 867 records screened, twenty articles (14 unique studies) were included. WBRT lead to decline in cognitive performance, which stabilized or returned to baseline in patients with survival of at least 9-15 months. For SRS, a decline in cognitive performance was sometimes observed shortly after treatment, but the majority of patients returned to or remained at baseline until a year after treatment. Conclusions: These findings suggest that after WBRT, patients can experience deterioration over a longer period of time. The cognitive side effects of SRS are transient. Therefore, this review advices to choose SRS as this will result in lowest risks for cognitive adverse side effects, irrespective of predicted survival. In an already cognitively vulnerable patient population with limited survival, this information can be used in communicating risks and aid in making educated decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-636
Number of pages15
JournalONCOLOGY RESEARCH AND TREATMENT
Volume44
Issue number11
Early online date3 Sept 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Brain metastases
  • Cognition
  • Neurocognitive functioning
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Whole-brain radiotherapy

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