The findings of the study were presented at the ESTRO 38
conference by Laura Toussaint, a PhD student at the Department
of Medical Physics, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.
Earlier studies have shown that
radiation to certain areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus and temporal
lobes and hippocampus can affect higher brain functions particularly memory.
The current study hoped to find how various forms of
radiotherapy affect ed the brain structures involved in memory, for example, the
temporal lobes and hippocampus. The study analyzed
30 different structures in the brains of children treated with radiation for
to determine the effects.
Various Forms of Radiation on Memory
- The study team
conducted carried studies on ten different children treated for brain
- All children were
diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a type of brain tumor occurring in the central portion of
- Using CT and MRI
scans the team was able to
precisely localize the sites of the 30 structures in the childrens' brains important for memory and other higher functions to
analyze the effects of radiation on these.
- Each child was
treated with the three types of radiotherapy namely volumetric modulated
arc therapy (VMAT), double scattering proton therapy (DSPT) or pencil beam
scanning proton therapy (PBS).
- All the above are
advanced forms of radiotherapy
treatments but DSPT and PBS are a form of proton therapy, which specifically targets the
tumor tissue with little or no damage to surrounding normal tissue. These
treatments require expensive equipment and are not widely available in all
- PBS is a particularly precision type radiotherapy that
uses a very narrow proton beam to deliver the radiation
- The three forms of radiation for each child
were then compared to see which type of radiation treatment caused
the least damage to the 30 structures and categorized the radiation dose
to each of these structures as low medium and high
- It was seen that radiation dose to the temporal lobe
was the least with PBS treatment, on comparison with both the DSPT and
- Also, it was noted that 41 percent of the left
hippocampus volume received much lower doses of radiation with DSPT form
of radiation and was totally spared with PBS treatment
of the study suggest that the proton
therapies, particularly the PBS treatment would cause the least impairment of
children's memory and other functions
while assessing the effects of various
forms of radiation treatment for childhood brain tumors
Ms Toussaint, said: "The use of
proton therapy has been expanding rapidly over the last decade and is becoming
more and more available for cancer patients, especially for children. This also
means that more research can take place. The next step would be to confirm this
finding with clinical research in patients."
Proton beam radiation therapy, particularly pencil beam
is effective in preserving memory and other brain functions
while treating with brain tumors.
These findings will
pave the way for further research in this area as well as making the treatment
more widely available and accessible. Currently, there are about 25 centers in
Europe offering proton beam therapy and a further 19 being planned or underway.
- Pencil beam radiotherapy may help preserve memory in kids with brain tumours - (https://www.estro.org/)