Cognitive Impairment in Primary Brain Tumors Outpatients: A Prospective Cross-Sectional Survey

J Neurooncol. 2013 May;112(3):455-60. doi: 10.1007/s11060-013-1076-8. Epub 2013 Feb 16.


Brain tumors and anti-cancer treatments can cause a wide range of cognitive deficits that in turn, being a major cause of disability, significantly affect patients' independence and quality of life. To evaluate the neurocognitive status of a non selected population of brain tumors outpatients, investigating the correlation with clinical and demographic variables. This prospective cross-sectional survey enrolled consecutive outpatients with a histopathologically confirmed diagnosis of brain tumor. All the patients were evaluated with a battery of standardized neuropsychological tests assessing language, memory, logical-executive functions, attention, visuo-constructional abilities. An univariate regression analysis was performed to assess the impact of socio-demographical and clinical variables on the presence of cognitive impairment. 147 patients (61F/86M, mean age 52.8 ± 13.3, mean schooling 12.7 ± 4 were enrolled into the study. Out of the 147 patients evaluated, 80 (54.4 %) showed cognitive impairment: 43 (53.75 %) presented a multidomain impairment, while 37 (46.25 %) patients revealed cognitive deficits limited respectively to language (n:13, 16.25 %), memory (n:11, 13.75 %), attention (n:7, 8.75 %), logical-executive functions (n:5, 6.25 %), visuo-spatial abilities (n:1, 1.25 %). At the regression analysis the variables significantly related to the development of cognitive impairment were age (p = 0.04), lesion side (p = 0.00), chemotherapy (p = 0.03). As advances in anti-cancer treatment have prolonged life expectancy of neuro-oncological patients, standard clinical endpoints can't be limited to just survival or progression free survival, but have to consider clinical benefits on both motor and cognitive function and in general quality of life. Hence evaluation of new therapeutic strategies should routinely include longitudinal neuropsychological assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents