Preserving Cognitive Function for Patients with Brain Metastases

Preserving Cognitive Function for Patients with Brain Metastases

February 21, 2020

At the 24th Annual Meeting and Education Day of the Society for NeuroOncology (SNO), there were hundreds of presentations and poster sessions detailing the latest updates in brain tumor and brain cancer research.

Part of the Brains for the Cure (BFTC) team had the chance to attend this conference to share the resources BFTC has to offer, but also to learn of these promising updates from clinical trials.

Dr. Terri Armstrong presented her study: Preservation of neurocognitive function & patient-reported symptoms with hippocampal avoidance (HA) during whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) for brain metastases: Long-term results of NRG Oncology CC001. This Phase III trial has taken place from July 2015 to March 2018 and had a total of 518 patients enrolled.

Purpose of the Trial

The purpose of this trial was to study adult patients with brain metastases and discover if “hippocampal avoidance (HA) using intensity-modulated radiotherapy during whole-brain radiotherapy during whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT)” would preserve cognitive function in patients.

What is the Hippocampus?

The hippocampus is a complex brain structure embedded deep into temporal lobe. The hippocampus plays a major role in learning and memory.

What is Whole-Brain Radiotherapy?

Whole brain radiotherapy is a palliative option for patients with brain metastases that alleviates symptoms and potentially improves overall survival. It has been reported to increase the risk of cognitive decline.

Presented Results

Along with the other clinicians a part of this trial, Dr. Armstrong was able to present that their trial resulted positively. Results found that it is possible to preserve cognitive function such as memory, speech, and more while receiving whole-brain radiotherapy for those that have a brain metastases. From this study, it was determined that brain metastasis patients who are eligible for whole-brain radiation, and whose survival is expected to be four months or longer, now hippocampal avoidance (preserving cognitive function) using IMRT should be considered standard of care.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (Definition of Hippocampus)
SNO Presentation (beginning at 1:52)
Journal of Clinical Oncology
Medical Xpress