Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protecting specific area of the brain during radiation therapy substantially reduces memory loss

Date:
September 23, 2013
Source:
University of Maryland Medical Center
Summary:
Protecting the stem cells that reside in and around the hippocampus -- a C-shaped area in the temporal lobe on both sides of the brain associated with the ability to form and store memories -- substantially reduces the rate of cancer patients' memory loss during whole-brain radiotherapy without a significant risk of recurrence in that area of the brain, a new study shows.

Protecting the stem cells that reside in and around the hippocampus -- a C-shaped area in the temporal lobe on both sides of the brain associated with the ability to form and store memories -- substantially reduces the rate of cancer patients' memory loss during whole-brain radiotherapy without a significant risk of recurrence in that area of the brain, a new study shows. Results of the Phase II clinical trial of patients with brain metastases are being presented today at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.

"Memory loss, especially short-term recall, is an important consideration for patients receiving whole-brain radiotherapy," says the study's co-principal investigator, Minesh P. Mehta, M.B., Ch.B., professor of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "We found that reducing the radiation dose to the stem-cell niches surrounding the hippocampus during treatment was clearly associated with memory preservation without an inordinate risk of relapse in that portion of the brain. The findings far exceeded our expectations."

Based on previous research, the predicted rate of cognitive decline at four months for patients receiving whole-brain radiation for brain metastases was 30 percent. Researchers designed the clinical trial so that a positive result would be a rate reduced by half, to 15 percent. The observed rate in the trial was actually 7 percent -- significantly better than the baseline rate of 30 percent. With a third fewer patients to evaluate, the rate of decline observed at six months was 2 percent, although comparable data from the historic control study were not available.

"These Phase II results, while not absolutely conclusive, offer very important insights which we hope to validate in a larger, randomized Phase III clinical trial," says Dr. Mehta, a radiation oncologist at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center who chairs the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) brain tumor committee. The RTOG, which managed the Phase II trial, also plans to manage the Phase III Study.

Co-principal investigator Vinai Gondi, M.D., will present the findings at the plenary session at the ASTRO annual meeting in Atlanta. He practices at Central DuPage Hospital Cancer Center in Warrenville, Ill.

E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "Preserving neurocognitive function is extremely important in treating patients with brain metastases, and the results of this latest study on hippocampal-avoidance radiotherapy led by Dr. Mehta are very encouraging. This technique, if validated in a randomized clinical trial, will give physicians a significant new tool to help maintain patients' quality of life while aggressively treating their cancer."

Patients in the study, the majority of them with lung cancer that had spread to the brain, were treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which enabled doctors to shape the radiation beams to avoid the hippocampus. Researchers used a standardized cognitive function assessment -- the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (HVLT) -- to measure patients' baseline memory, such as their ability to recall information immediately or after a delay, with follow-up at two, four and six months.

A total of 113 patients were recruited between 2011 and 2013; investigators were able to evaluate 42 patients at four months and 29 patients at six months. The median survival for the participants was 6.8 months. Three patients (4.5 percent) experienced progression of their disease in the hippocampal region, which was within the expected range.

Dr. Mehta says that the radiation affects cognitive function by damaging nerve cells as well as stem cells, which help to regenerate nerve cells that support memory formation. "These stem-cell niches are exquisitely sensitive to radiation and are involved in neurogenesis -- the process of generating new neurons, or nerve cells. Although we call it hippocampal-avoidance radiotherapy, we really are targeting the stem-cell niches in and around the hippocampus," Dr. Mehta says.

He notes that factors other than radiation may also contribute to cognitive decline in patients with brain metastases, including medicines to control seizures or swelling in the brain. The cancer itself may also have an effect.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Medical Center. "Protecting specific area of the brain during radiation therapy substantially reduces memory loss." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923143636.htm>.
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013, September 23). Protecting specific area of the brain during radiation therapy substantially reduces memory loss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923143636.htm
University of Maryland Medical Center. "Protecting specific area of the brain during radiation therapy substantially reduces memory loss." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923143636.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins