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Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2015 Feb;157(2):155-64; discussion 164. doi: 10.1007/s00701-014-2304-5. Epub 2014 Dec 21.

Primo non nocere or maximum survival in grade 2 gliomas? A medical ethical question.

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Copenhagen Neurosurgery, Neuroscience Centre, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 København Ø, Copenhagen, Denmark,



Maximum safe resection is the "gold standard" in surgical treatment of grade 2 gliomas (G2Gs), aiming to achieve maximal survival benefit with minimal risk of functional deficit.


To investigate the attitude of patients and experts towards more extensive surgery with a trade-off between neurological function and survival time.


Eight patients and seven experts participated in semi-structured focus group interviews.


Both patients and experts accepted the premise of balancing neurological function versus longevity. Some patients would accept an increased risk of permanent neurological deficits in order to obtain a chance of increased survival. There was a significant variance in what constituted "quality of life" both between patients and for the individual patient over time.


In important life-changing decisions there is no "one size fits all". We find that it is ethically acceptable to offer more extensive surgery than is possible within the concept of maximal safe surgery as a treatment option, when balancing the principles of beneficence, non-maleficience, autonomy and justice supports the decision. At the same time it must be remembered that even when the patients have made a well-informed decision, some will regret it. In that situation it will be our job as healthcare professionals to support them and help carry some of this burden.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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