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Proton Therapy May Treat Brain Tumors With Lower IQ Loss Than Photons

Update Date: Jan 31, 2016 02:06 PM EST
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A promising alternative brain tumor treatment for children aged 0-19 can increase survival without harming IQ over time in a recently published study featured in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Parents of children diagnosed with brain tumors can ease a little bit after a retrospective comparison contained in a Houston-based study suggests that patients receiving proton beam radiotherapy (PBRT) did not a manifest any huge reduction of intelligence quotient (IQ) compared with the conventional photon treatment that yielded a significant loss of IQ.

According to The Monitor Daily, when the numbers are compared, PBRT has 0.7-point IQ loss per year which is significantly lower than photon radiation's 1.1 -point decline. The researchers, however, cautioned that no significant difference between the two treatments is observed when comparison is made based on the change in IQ over time.

"Overall, our findings suggest PBRT is not associated with significant IQ decline or impairment in survivors of pediatric brain tumors. The relative neurocognitive benefits of PBRT compared with XRT (photon radiotherapy) remain uncertain, but were not large or definitive in this sample. Until we acquire more long-term data, we will not fully understand the impact of PBRT on the neurocognitive trajectories of these patients," remarked Dr. Lisa Kahalley and other co-authors as quoted in an article by MedPage Today.

In a separate and unrelated study featured in The Lancet Oncology, PBRT also appears to be a medically safer substitute for traditional X-ray radiotherapy using photons.

Focusing on cumulative ototoxicity of PBRT on medulloblastoma, the study revealed that PBRT has fewer side effects on child patients with almost the same efficacy as the other treatment using photons.

"The major finding is that proton therapy is as effective as photon therapy, or conventional X-ray radiotherapy, in curing these patients and what is also very exciting is that it is maintaining these high rates of cure but doing so with less late toxicity, which has dramatic quality of life improvements," said Dr. Torunn Yock of Massachusetts General Hospital as quoted in a report by BBC.

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