Purpose: To determine the contribution of cognitive function in predicting the survival of patients with recurrent malignant brain tumors.
Patients and methods: A total of 80 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme or anaplastic astrocytoma were seen for baseline evaluations before beginning a phase I or phase II clinical trial. Each patient received a battery of nine brief tests measuring cognitive function, ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), and quality of life (QOL). Tests were given monthly after treatment was begun.
Results: Performance on a test of verbal memory was independently and strongly related to survival after accounting for age, Karnofsky performance status score, histology, and time since diagnosis. Models incorporating three of nine and all nine tests in the battery accounted for significantly more variance in survival than did the clinical variables alone. Measures of QOL and ADLs (bathing, feeding, and so on) were not independently related to survival, although they provide clinical information that is important for patient care.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a multifaceted assessment of cognition, QOL, and patient function is practical for brain tumor patients in clinical trials and can provide information regarding the relative risks versus benefits of new treatment regimens that supplements the information from the usual clinical variables.