The Italian Journal of Neurological Sciences

, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 481–488 | Cite as

Cognitive impairment and quality of life in long-term survivors of malignant brain tumors

  • Giovagnoli A. R. 
  • Boiardi A. 
Original Articles


Thirtysix long-term survivors following the treatment of a malignant supratentorial brain tumor were examined for cognitive functions and global level of autonomy. Eighteen patients were symptom-free (SF) and 18 had clinical and neuroradiological recurrence (RE). The control group included 30 healthy subjects. All subjects underwent a neuropsychological battery for general and specific cognitive functions. The level of autonomy was assessed by means of the Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) for oncological patients. SF patients showed less impairment than RE patients both at the tests, as well as on the KPS. The cognitive deficits were subclinical in most SF patients, the tests for attention, memory and word fluency being the most sensitive in detecting subtle dysfunctions. The association between tumor location and specific cognitive deficits was inconstant in both patient groups. The results suggest that even subtle cognitive deficits can prevent SF long-term survivors from returning to premorbid autonomy and occupations, and that neuropsychological tests may be used as complementary routine indicators of their quality of life. Furthermore, our data show that, in selected patients, combined treatments and therapeutic insistence do not necessarily have the same deleterious effects.

Key Words

malignant brain tumor long-term survival symptom-free patients cognitive impairment quality of life 


Trentasei pazienti, lungosopravviventi dopo il trattamento per un tumore sopratentoriale maligno, sono stati sottoposti ad und valutazione delle funzioni cognitive e del livello globale di autonomia. Diciotto pazienti erano asintomatici e 18 presentavano recidiva clinica e radiologica. Come gruppo di controllo sono stati esaminati 30 soggetti sani. Tutti i soggetti sono stati sottoposti ad una batteria neuropsicologica per la valutazione di funzioni cognitive generali e specifiche. Il livello di autonomia è stato definito mediante la scala di Karnofsky per pazienti oncologici. I pazienti asintomatici hanno mostrato una minore compromissione sia delle funzioni cognitive che del livello di autonomia rispetto a quelli con recidiva. I deficit cognitivi sono risultati modesti nella maggior parte dei pazienti asintomatici ed i test di attenzione, fluenza verbale e memoria sono apparsi i più sensibili nel rilievo di disfunzioni subcliniche. L'associazione tra sede del tumore e deficit cognitivi specifici è risultata incostante in entrambi i gruppi di pazienti. I risultati suggeriscono che deficit cognitivi anche lievi possono impedire il completo recupero dell'autonomia e delle attività premorbose nei lungosopravviventi asintomatici e che i test neuropsicologici possono fornire indici complementari nella valutazione routinaria della qualità di vita. I nostri dati inoltre mostrano che, in pazienti selezionati, l'insistenza terapeutica non induce necessariamente effetti deleteri.


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Copyright information

© Masson S.p.A. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovagnoli A. R. 
    • 1
  • Boiardi A. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale Neurologico “C. Besta”Milano

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