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The effects of sequential treatments on hippocampal volumes in malignant glioma patients


Malignant gliomas (MG) are very aggressive tumors. In an effort to improve the outcome, the patients receive multi-modal therapies such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy (temozolomide followed in many cases by bevacizumab). The survivors are affected by multiple learning and memory deficits. Greater deterioration over time in hippocampal specific cognitive tasks was shown in patients receiving bevacizumab in addition to radiation and temozolomide for a longer period of time (RTOG 0825). The rate of hippocampal atrophy in patients treated with radiation and temozolomide followed by bevacizumab is not yet determined, and is the goal of the present study. We used the serial MRIs obtained as parts of standard clinical care in patients with MG. Measurements were done using the Medical Image Processing, Analysis and Visualization (MIPAV) software. The hippocampus in the contralateral hemisphere was manually traced and measured, to avoid morphological structure changes induced by the tumor, radiation fields or surgical markers. We determined a longitudinal progression of hippocampal atrophy-with the maximum volume loss (33.26 %) for the patients that were on treatment for 5 years. There was no detectable hippocampal atrophy during the chemo-radiation followed by adjuvant temozolomide. A significant decrease in the absolute hippocampus volume was noted after 6 months of continuous bevacizumab treatment (p < 0.05). The hippocampal volume loss progressed over the next 3 years, and was higher than the one previously reported in Alzheimer disease patients. The hippocampal volume loss is minimal during the 1 month after diagnosis, when the patients receive chemo-radiation and adjuvant temozolomide. However, prolonged treatment including bevacizumab is associated with a significant rate of hippocampal volume loss.

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