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Whole-brain radiation technique to treat brain cancer causes memory loss: Study

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Washington: The widely used whole-brain radiation technique to treat brain cancer is not an effective strategy and results in more memory loss than treating patients with radiotherapy alone, study says.

First used in 1954, whole-brain radiation has long been a standard strategy for brain metastases (cancer cells that have spread to the brain from primary tumours in other organs in the body).

“The potential benefits of whole brain radiation therapy are far outweighed by the detriments of the therapy itself,” Paul Brown, professor of radiation oncology at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Centre was quoted as saying in a Wall Street Journal report.

For the study, patients were assigned to either radiosurgery followed by whole-brain radiation or radiosurgery alone.

The research involved 213 patients, who had one to three small tumours or metastases in the brain.

Patients treated with both approaches performed significantly worse three months later on tests involving cognitive abilities.

Median overall survival was 7.5 months for those receiving both treatments and 10.7 months for those on radiosurgery alone.

Both whole-brain radiation and recurrent metastases are “bad for the brain.”

Lung cancer is the most common malignancy to spread to the brain, followed by breast cancer and melanoma.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on May 31. (IANS)

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