Radiotherapy for brain tumours may cause brain damage

Although brain cancer has a reputation for being rapidly fatal, roughly half of them are much less virulent, with sufferers living as long as 20 years after diagnosis.

The traditional therapy for such ‘low-grade’ brain tumours is targeted radiation (using X-rays) treatment. However, concern has been raised by Dutch researchers that the therapy may have adverse effects on the rest of the brain as well.

After studying the records of nearly 200 patients, they concluded that cognitive functioning is indeed significantly impaired by radiotherapy – yet another example of the treatment being worse than the disease (Lancet, 2002; 360: 1361-8).

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