Cognitive screening in patients with intracranial tumors: validation of the BCSE


This study presents the first validation of the Brief Cognitive Status Exam (BCSE) against two other screening tools for cognitive impairment in patients with intracranial tumors. 58 patients and 22 matched healthy controls completed the BCSE, the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Patients were additionally tested with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery. Based on this assessment, they were classified as cognitively impaired or unimpaired on five cognitive domains. Analyses revealed a comparable feasibility of the BCSE relative to the MoCA and the MMSE, but a smaller range of assessed functions (e.g., no correlation with the domain visual-spatial functions). The ability to separate patients and healthy controls was extremely poor for BCSE and MMSE (sensitivity of 38.6 % and less), but moderate for MoCA (sensitivity 68.97 %). Detection of cognitive impairment in patients was worst with BCSE (sensitivity 37 %; MoCA 92.9 %, MMSE 44.4 %) as compared to neuropsychological testing. Moreover, prediction of cognitive outcome was also worst for the BCSE (AUC = .713, NPV = 50 %). An optimal cut-off of 50.5 increased the results slightly. In summary, the BCSE showed good feasibility but no sufficient results in separating healthy individuals from patients or detecting cognitive impairment in patients. Consequently, as a screening measure, we would recommend the MoCA instead of the BCSE. However, since even the MoCA failed to detect cognitive impairment, our study supports the view that reliable results could only be obtained with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery.

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We would like to thank the Familie Mehdorn Stiftung for funding this study. We thank Rajka Matthiesen and Lea Schmitz for the excellent assistance in data acquisition, and Yumiko Nakai for her helpful comments on the manuscript. This manuscript or parts of it have not been published previously and have not been submitted simultaneously for publication in another source.


Juliane Becker and Elisabeth Steinmann were receiving a grant from the Familie Mehdorn Stiftung. None of the other authors received any financial or material support.

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Correspondence to Juliane Becker.

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All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Online Resource 2: Additional material section results.

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Online Resource 3: Additional material section discussion.

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Becker, J., Steinmann, E., Könemann, M. et al. Cognitive screening in patients with intracranial tumors: validation of the BCSE. J Neurooncol 127, 559–567 (2016).

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  • Screening instrument
  • Neuropsychological diagnostic
  • Intracranial tumor