Psychological disorders, cognitive dysfunction and quality of life in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients with radiation-induced brain injury

PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e36529. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036529. Epub 2012 Jun 11.


Purpose: To evaluate factors affecting psychology, cognitive function and quality of life (QOL) of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients with radiation-induced brain injury (RI).

Methods and materials: 46 recurrence-free NPC patients with RI and 46 matched control patients without RI were recruited in our study. Subjective and objective symptoms of RI were evaluated with the LENT/SOMA systems. Psychological assessment was measured with Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) and Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS). Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was carried out in these patients for assessing their cognitive function. QOL was evaluated by means of WHOQOL BREF.

Results: Of the patients with RI, 39(84.8%) had depression and 40(87.0%) had anxiety. The patients with RI got higher scores both in SDS and SAS than those without RI (SDS, 63.48±8.11 vs. 58.67±7.52, p = 0.008; SAS, 67.36±10.41 vs. 60.34±9.76, p = 0.005). Score in MoCA of patients with RI was significantly lower than that of patients without RI (21.32±2.45 vs. 25.98±1.73, p<0.001). SAS was positive correlated with post-radiotherapy interval. Both SAS and SDS had a significantly positive correlation with the rank of SOMA, while MoCA had a significantly negative correlation with SOMA. Chemotherapy was a risk factor for cognitive dysfunction. In addition, patients with RI got significantly lower scores in physical health (16.50±11.05 vs. 35.02±10.43, p<0.001), psychological health (17.70±10.33 vs. 39.48±12.00, p<0.001) and social relationship (48.00±18.65 vs. 67.15±19.70, p<0.001) compared with those in patients without RI. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that anxiety and cognitive impairment were significant predictors of global QOL.

Conclusions: NPC patients with RI exhibit negative emotions, impaired cognitive function and QOL. The severity of clinical symptoms of RI plays an important role in both emotions and cognitive function. Anxiety and cognitive impairment are associated with decreased QOL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Carcinoma
  • China
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Self-Assessment