Objectives: There is little reliable quantitative information on preoperative quality of life of patients with brain tumours. The aim of this study was to clarify the effect of the volume, location, and histological grade of brain tumours on the preoperative quality of life of patients.
Methods: The study population consisted of 101 successive patients with brain tumour at Oulu Clinic for Neurosurgery studied with CT or MRI for preoperative determination of tumour location and size. The Nottingham health profile (NHP) and Sintonen's 15D scale were used at that time to measure quality of life.
Results: Tumour size did not correlate linearly with impairment of quality of life. Large tumours (>25 ml) were associated with poorer quality of life than small tumours (< or =25 ml). The patients with a tumour located on the right side or in the anterior region reported a poorer quality of life than those with a tumour on the left side or posteriorly. Quality of life assessments made by doctors using the Karnofsky performance scale showed no differences between the two hemispheres. Patients with the most malignant gliomas (grades III-IV) displayed the poorest quality of life.
Conclusions: Large tumours apparently damage several parts of the brain and/or raise intracranial pressure to a level that exceeds the brain's compensatory capacity. Contrary to earlier understanding, tumours in the right hemisphere seemed to be related to poorer quality of life. This effect was especially clear in the patients' subjective evaluation of their quality of life. As the location of the brain tumour thus affects perceived quality of life, any measurements of the quality of life of patients with brain tumours should take into account the location and laterality of the tumour.