Brain tumor treatment can vary greatly, according to new JAMA study

Primary malignant brain tumors are not very common about 9,000 patients diagnosed per year and are associated with a poor prognosis. Treatment of these patients varies greatly among academic and community centers and can be in conflict with accepted guidelines of care, according to a new study.

Findings are reported in the February 3 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in an article titled "Malignant Glioma Patterns of Care."

UCSF Medical Center neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD, lead author, says the information gathered from this study will be of substantial benefit to both patients and physicians. The study surveyed close to 800 patients over a two-and-a-half-year period at 52 clinical sites throughout the United States and Canada.

"Our goal in neuro-oncology is to improve the duration and quality of survival of our patients," Chang says. "Providing up-to-date information on the treatment of these patients is very important and a major challenge. Specialists in the neuro-oncology field communicate well with each other, but we need to partner with other healthcare providers, including emergency physicians, primary physicians, neurologists and oncologists in the community, so that the optimum care is provided."

The researchers found that the use of some diagnostic tools and treatment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), radiation and surgery were consistent. But the study also found that fewer than 70 percent of patients who participated in the survey received chemotherapy, despite research findings that it is a useful therapy for brain tumors.

Other findings also raised concerns, according to Chang. Eighty-nine percent of brain-tumor patients received anti-convulsant medication, yet only 31 percent presented with seizures.

"While it is accepted that patients who present with seizures should receive anti-epileptic drugs (AED), there is strong evidence that prophylactic AED have li

Contact: Carol Hyman
University of California - San Francisco

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