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Clin Transl Oncol. 2012 Jan;14(1):43-9. doi: 10.1007/s12094-012-0760-z.

Predicting compliance and survival in palliative whole-brain radiotherapy for brain metastases.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario, Albacete, Spain.



Brain radiotherapy is the main treatment for patients with brain metastases but its goal is just symptom control. Our aim was to study if different performance tools, used in geriatric practice, could improve patient selection for decision-making in the palliative brain radiotherapy setting.


Data from 61 consecutive patients were analysed. In addition to Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) their physical activity was assessed by means of the activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) scales. A neurocognitive evaluation was performed with the Pfeiffer Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ) and with the Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE). Radiotherapy compliance and short survival were the endpoints of the study.


High rates of cognitive impairment were found by both neurocognitive tools (Pfeiffer: 19.7% of patients; MMSE: 30%). Dependence was also highly prevalent, either measured by the ADL (50.8%) or by the IADL (43.3%). Nearly one third (27.9%) of patients died soon after radiotherapy evaluation. Longer survival was related to female, younger than 60 years, breast cancer primary tumour, steroid response, RPA class, and higher performance and neurocognitive score tools. A premature death was associated with neurocognitive tools, IADL and longer interval from brain metastatic diagnosis to radiotherapy. Twenty-three percent of patients were not able to finish the WBRT course due to clinical deterioration. The only variable related to compliance was a low MMSE score.


Results suggest that the geriatric tools analysed could offer information on brain palliative radiotherapy complementary to that offered by the more usual tools. It will be interesting to study if our data could be extrapolated to the general palliative oncological field.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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