February 6, 2012
By Alexander Frantzis
Many within the alternative health community believe anesthetics cause brain damage. Evidence for this claim has included innumerable animal studies demonstrating a wide range of side effects from every class of anesthetics.
Clinical observations of patients and in certain instances a physician directly perceiving the neurological damage within themselves following anesthesia have also supported this theory. Unfortunately, while a definite hypothesis is easy to establish with animals, it is difficult to test in humans.
Until recently strong evidence has been lacking either way that anesthetics harm human beings. Thus, safer alternatives such as acupuncture, non-toxic anesthetics and abstaining from the application of anesthesia remain under examination. Recent work by the Mayo Clinic however contradicts the prevailing mindset. Onset of ADHD, an indicator of neurological damage, was strongly correlated to children who had been repeatedly anesthetized.
Aware of the evidence suggesting a connection, Mayo Clinic researchers devised a method to test for a possible link between the two. Comparing the records of a group of children exposed to 2 or more anesthetics before the age of 3 versus a group with 0 exposure, it was found that the former group had over twice the incidence of ADHD as the latter.
Children with no exposure to anesthesia and surgery had a 7.3 percent incidence of ADHD. Equally, for children with only a single surgery and exposure to anesthesia before the age of 3 the rate was nearly the same as no exposure. However for children with two or more exposures to anesthesia and surgery, the rate of ADHD was 17.9 percent. This result remained even after researchers adjusted for other factors, including gestational age, sex, birth weight and comorbid health conditions.
Statistically, this data showed a very large difference between each group and a clear correlation between anesthesia and cognitive impairment. To quote study pediatric anesthesiologist and study investigator Dr. Warner: “We were skeptical that the findings in animals would correlate with kids, but it appears that it does.”
November 4, 2011
By Mary Brophy Marcus
In a study published online Nov. 2 in Nature, Mayo Clinic scientists came up with a way to eliminate so-called “senescent” cells — aging cells that stop functioning properly but still stick around the body, damaging healthy tissues, explained study author Dr. Jan van Deursen, a professor of pediatrics, molecular biology and biochemistry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“This research has identified a cell class that makes you old and makes you have age-related declines. We can now start to think about how you can get rid of them,” he said.
According to van Deursen, “how organisms and people age is not really well understood, particularly not at a cell and molecular level. There are many theories about how we age and one of the theories that we investigated was that as we age, senescent cells start to accumulate and produce and secrete proteins and other factors that basically make the healthy neighboring cells that surround them less functional.”
After “deleting” senescent cells in mice genetically engineered to age quickly, tissues remained healthier and performed better, van Deursen’s team found.
Senescent cells are limited in number, making only up to 15 percent of cells in an elderly person, for example. To eliminate them in the mice, the researchers focused a tracer on a protein called p16, explained co-author Dr. James Kirkland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.
P16 stops cells from dividing and can trigger a series of steps that causes cellular senescence, Kirkland said.
“In healthy young cells the p16 gene is not expressed,” van Deursen added. “Later on, as we age, it becomes higher in our tissues.”
The scientists used p16 to activate a type of “suicide gene” within senescent cells. The protein made by this gene will kill senescent cells (without harming other normal cells) after a drug specifically designed to activate it is administered, said van Deursen.
Two sets of prematurely aged mice were involved. In one set, the researchers cleared senescent cells for the whole 15 months of the mice’s typical lifespan. In another set of mice, they waited until age-related problems were well underway and then cleared the senescent cells away for a few months, said Kirkland.
The result: Lifelong destruction of a mouse’s senescent cells kept age-related problems at bay, including cataracts and loss of muscle mass and strength. But the study also suggested that removing senescent cells later in life could slow down these age-related health problems.
What’s more, said Kirkland, improved behavior was noted — the activity level of the mice was considerably higher.
Still, the research is early and has not yet moved into experiments in humans. “It’s a proof of principle study. Now we know we can safely remove these cells in an animal model without causing any detectable harm,” said van Deursen.
Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and an expert in aging, said the work was exciting.
October 4th, 2011
By: S. L. Baker
Millions of infants and toddlers age two and under are subjected to surgery every year. Sure, some have been in serious accidents and are suffering other types of emergency situations that require life saving operations. But the vast majority are basically healthy kids put under general anesthesia for procedures like repairing hernias or placing tubes in ears because of repeated infections. And sometimes these surgeries are repeated or a youngster has multiple operations.
No matter how often parents are told “these things are done all the time” and how “safe” anesthesia is, it is crucial that parents think twice about allowing surgery on their young children unless it is absolutely necessary. The reason? Scientists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester have found a strong association between children undergoing surgery requiring general anesthesia before they are 2 years old and learning disabilities later in childhood.
The research, set for publication in the print version of the journal Pediatrics and just published online, investigated medical data on 5,357 children from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. Of these youngsters, 350 underwent surgeries with general anesthesia before they were 2 years old. They were matched with 700 children, who served as a control group for the study because they did not undergo a procedure with anesthesia.
In all, of the toddlers and babies exposed to anesthesia, 286 had only been subjected to one surgery but 64 had more than one operation. Over a third (36.6 percent) of the children who had more than one surgery developed a learning disability later in life.
The children, who only had one surgery, had a lower but still elevated risk of a learning disability — 23.6 percent of those little ones developed a learning disability compared to 21.2 percent of the kids, who developed learning disabilities but never had surgery or anesthesia before age 2.
“After removing factors related to existing health issues, we found that children exposed more than once to anesthesia and surgery prior to age 2 were approximately three times as likely to develop problems related to speech and language when compared to children who never underwent surgeries at that young age,” David Warner, M.D., Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and co-author of the study, said in a statement to the media.
Anesthesia may damage the brain
This study isn’t the first time Mayo Clinic researchers have found evidence anesthesia may damage the brains of children. The results of a 2009 Mayo study, published in the medical journal Anesthesiology, showed that exposure of children to anesthesia appeared to affect development of the brain.
Other previous studies have indicated anesthetic drugs causes abnormalities in the brains of young animals. For example, according to a study published by FDA scientists in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, experiments on laboratory rats and other animals showed that anesthesia caused subtle but lasting changes in behavior and memory; anesthesia also impaired learning.
The new study is especially significant because it looked only at children experiencing anesthesia and surgeries under age 2 and controlled for existing health issues. “Our advice to parents considering surgery for a child under age 2 is to speak with your child’s physician,” says Randall Flick, M.D., Mayo Clinic pediatric anesthesiologist and lead author of the study.
October 8th, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
An extract from green tea may slow the progression of the most common form of leukemia, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic and presented at the annual meeting of the “American Society of Clinical Oncology.”
The study was conducted on 42 patients suffering from early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Because CLL typically develops slowly with periods of remission, patients are only treated when the disease is actively spreading. None of the study participants were yet undergoing any cancer treatment, including radiation or chemotherapy.
The participants were treated with an extract of epigallocatechin galeate (EGCG), an antioxidant in the catechin family, leading to a significant drop in leukemia cell count in more than two-thirds of participants. In more than one-third of participants, the number of cancerous cells in the blood dropped by a full 20 percent. Additionally, 70 percent of patients who were suffering from enlarged lymph nodes underwent a 50 percent reduction in lymph node size.
“Although only a comparative phase III trial can determine whether EGCG can delay progression of CLL, the benefits we have seen in most CLL patients who use the chemical suggest that it has modest clinical activity and may be useful for stabilizing this form of leukemia, potentially slowing it down,” said lead author Tait Shanafelt.
Prior studies have suggested that green tea and its compounds may help fight off cancers of the bladder, colon, esophagus, stomach and pancreas. More recent studies have suggested that it may help fend off tooth decay and aid in weight loss.
Green tea consumption has also been associated with a lowered risk of heart disease, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis and impaired immune disease. In addition to helping prevent these chronic diseases, green tea may also help slow their progression. Advocates of the beverage also claim that it can help cleanse the body of toxins.
April 13, 2010
By: Todd Neale
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as omega-3 fatty acids may not only be good for your heart — it may also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Looking at more than 2,000 dementia-free adults ages 65 and older, researchers revealed that persons who consumed a Mediterranean-type diet regularly were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the next four years, according to Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas of Columbia University in New York and colleagues.
The findings were published online in the journal Archives of Neurology.
The dietary pattern is characterized by eating more salad dressing, nuts, tomatoes, fish, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and dark and green leafy vegetables and lesser quantities of red meat, organ meat, butter, and high-fat dairy products.
“Our findings provide support for further exploration of food combination-based dietary behavior for the prevention of this important public health problem,” Scarmeas and colleagues wrote.
A Mediterranean-style diet has already been linked to improved cardiovascular health, and this latest study joins a growing literature linking diet and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the researchers.
Scarmeas and his colleagues reported in 2006 that the Mediterranean diet, characterized by high intakes of fruits, vegetables, and cereals and low intakes of meat and dairy products, lowered Alzheimer’s disease risk in participants in the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP).
Commenting on the study, Dr. David Knopman of the Mayo Clinic questioned whether it added much to previous analyses by Scarmeas’ group, pointing out that the current study used the same data set in the same population.
“What’s really needed are more instances of validation in independent populations,” he told MedPage Today.
In an e-mail, Dr. Samuel Gandy of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said what the diet identified in this study shares with other diets linked to decreased Alzheimer’s disease risk is that it is heart healthy.
“This may explain their apparent ability to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, since heart disease increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.
“In any event, the diets do no harm and may have some benefits, hence their frequent recommendation by physicians,” he wrote, noting that proof of which foods and the appropriate quantities have effects on disease risk remain to be clarified.
In the current study, the researchers further explored dietary patterns in this cohort of Medicare beneficiaries living in northern Manhattan.
They asked 2,148 dementia-free individuals 65 and older to provide dietary information at baseline. Cognitive testing was performed about every 1.5 years.
Seven different dietary patterns emerged based on their ability to explain the variation in seven nutrients most often reported in previous studies to be related either positively or inversely to Alzheimer’s disease risk.
The nutrients were saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B12, and folate.
Through an average follow-up of nearly four years, 253 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Only one of the dietary patterns evaluated was associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk, after adjustment for demographic factors, smoking, body mass index, caloric intake, comorbidities and genetic risk factors.
The diet, which was rich in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and folate but poor in saturated fatty acids and vitamin B12, was similar to the Mediterranean diet.
Although the study could not prove a causal relationship, Scarmeas and his colleagues said that there are several ways the diet could protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Folate reduces circulating homocysteine levels, vitamin E has a strong antioxidant effect, and “fatty acids may be related to dementia and cognitive function through atherosclerosis, thrombosis, or inflammation via an effect on brain development and membrane functioning or via accumulation of beta-amyloid,” they wrote.
February 8th, 2010
In a new study, the researchers report that using a standard 1-inch needle to immunize obese adolescents against hepatitis B virus produced a much weaker effect than using a longer needle.
“As obesity rises in the US, we need to be aware that the standard of care may have to change to protect obese youth,” study co-author Dr. Amy Middleman of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston told Reuters Health.
Over three years her team vaccinated 22 young women and two young men in the shoulder, randomly assigning them to be injected with either a 1-inch or a 1.5-inch needle.
Once injected, vaccines trigger production of small molecules called antibodies, which kick-start our immune system if we are ever attacked by the virus again.
The two groups turned out to have different antibody counts depending on the needle used. In those injected with the short one, the number was almost halved.
Although everyone in the study had enough antibodies to be considered protected against hepatitis B, a lower count generally means a less robust response.
“It gives us more evidence of the importance of choosing the right needle length,” said Middleman, “because we just don’t know what the impact could be in other vaccines.”
The results are no surprise, said Dr. Gregory Poland, who studies vaccines at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. For years, doctors have known that vaccines tend not to work as well in heavy people. Whether the obese have weaker immune systems, or fat keeps shorter needles from reaching muscles, where the vaccines can affect immune cells, was unclear.
The introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine in the 1980s offered some clues. Soon after doctors began using the vaccine, they realized that it was failing to protect some female nurses.
At the time, the shot was given in the buttock, Poland told Reuters Health, and was thwarted by the padding there.
Instead of entering the muscle as it was supposed to, the vaccine apparently was broken down in the fat tissue, where it had little chance to affect immune cells. So doctors began giving the shot in the less-padded shoulder.
With the obesity epidemic now adding extra insulation to the shoulder, “our needles are going to have to be longer,” Poland said.
And those long needles aren’t as unpleasant as they sound. In fact, Poland said, “they turn out to be less painful and have fewer side effects.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends longer needles in obese patients, but it is unclear how many doctors follow these guidelines, or even know about them.
Women are more affected by needle length than men, because their fat distribution is different. But even obese women shouldn’t be overly concerned until more research has been done, Middleman cautioned.
“Should you go back and get all your immunizations repeated?” she said, “No, I don’t think so.”
January 6, 2010
By David Olmos
The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little.
More than 3,000 patients eligible for Medicare, the government’s largest health-insurance program, will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale, northwest of Phoenix, said Michael Yardley, a Mayo spokesman. The decision, which Yardley called a two-year pilot project, won’t affect other Mayo facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.
Obama in June cited the nonprofit Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for offering “the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm.” Mayo’s move to drop Medicare patients may be copied by family doctors, some of whom have stopped accepting new patients from the program, said Lori Heim, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in a telephone interview yesterday.
“Many physicians have said, ‘I simply cannot afford to keep taking care of Medicare patients,’” said Heim, a family doctor who practices in Laurinburg, North Carolina. “If you truly know your business costs and you are losing money, it doesn’t make sense to do more of it.”
The Mayo organization had 3,700 staff physicians and scientists and treated 526,000 patients in 2008. It lost $840 million last year on Medicare, the government’s health program for the disabled and those 65 and older, Mayo spokeswoman Lynn Closway said.
Mayo’s hospital and four clinics in Arizona, including the Glendale facility, lost $120 million on Medicare patients last year, Yardley said. The program’s payments cover about 50 percent of the cost of treating elderly primary-care patients at the Glendale clinic, he said.
“We firmly believe that Medicare needs to be reformed,” Yardley said in a Dec. 23 e-mail. “It has been true for many years that Medicare payments no longer reflect the increasing cost of providing services for patients.”
Mayo will assess the financial effect of the decision in Glendale to drop Medicare patients “to see if it could have implications beyond Arizona,” he said.
Nationwide, doctors made about 20 percent less for treating Medicare patients than they did caring for privately insured patients in 2007, a payment gap that has remained stable during the last decade, according to a March report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a panel that advises Congress on Medicare issues. Congress last week postponed for two months a 21.5 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors.
Medicare covered an estimated 45 million Americans at the end of 2008, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency in charge of the programs. While 92 percent of U.S. family doctors participate in Medicare, only 73 percent of those are accepting new patients under the program, said Heim of the national physicians’ group, citing surveys by the Leawood, Kansas-based organization.
Greater access to primary care is a goal of the broad overhaul supported by Obama that would provide health insurance to about 31 million more Americans. More family doctors are needed to help reduce medical costs by encouraging prevention and early treatment, Obama said in a June 15 speech to the American Medical Association meeting in Chicago.
Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman for health care, declined comment on Mayo’s decision to drop Medicare primary care patients at its Glendale clinic.
Mayo’s Medicare losses in Arizona may be worse than typical for doctors across the U.S., Heim said. Physician costs vary depending on business expenses such as office rent and payroll. “It is very common that we hear that Medicare is below costs or barely covering costs,” Heim said.
Mayo will continue to accept Medicare as payment for laboratory services and specialist care such as cardiology and neurology, Yardley said.
Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said physicians’ claims of inadequate reimbursement are overstated. Rather, the program faces a lack of medical providers because not enough new doctors are becoming family doctors, internists and pediatricians who oversee patients’ primary care.
“Some primary care doctors don’t have to see Medicare patients because there is an unlimited demand for their services,” Berenson said. When patients with private insurance can be treated at 50 percent to 100 percent higher fees, “then Medicare does indeed look like a poor payer,” he said.
A Medicare patient who chooses to stay at Mayo’s Glendale clinic will pay about $1,500 a year for an annual physical and three other doctor visits, according to an October letter from the facility. Each patient also will be assessed a $250 annual administrative fee, according to the letter. Medicare patients at the Glendale clinic won’t be allowed to switch to a primary care doctor at another Mayo facility.
A few hundred of the clinic’s Medicare patients have decided to pay cash to continue seeing their primary care doctors, Yardley said. Mayo is helping other patients find new physicians who will accept Medicare.
“We’ve had many patients call us and express their unhappiness,” he said. “It’s not been a pleasant experience.”
Mayo’s decision may herald similar moves by other Phoenix- area doctors who cite inadequate Medicare fees as a reason to curtail treatment of the elderly, said John Rivers, chief executive of the Phoenix-based Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.
“We’ve got doctors who are saying we are not going to deal with Medicare patients in the hospital” because they consider the fees too low, Rivers said. “Or they are saying we are not going to take new ones in our practice.”
September 29, 2009
By Theresa Tamkins
Are you finally ready for some good news about the recession? As it turns out, a shaky economy might actually be good for your health.
In a bad economy, therapists often suggest taking control of things patients can, including eating right, exercising.
Although it seems hard to believe, a new analysis of the Great Depression — the mother of all economic bad times — suggests that mortality dropped and life expectancy increased during that period.
Researchers estimate that around that time, a year with a 5 percent drop in the gross domestic product was associated with a 1.9-year gain in life expectancy, while a 5 percent rise in the GDP lowered life expectancy by about one to two months.
And it’s not just the Great Depression, says José A. Tapia Granados, M.D., of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Past research has shown similar results — at least a drop in mortality — in periods of U.S. economic recession during the 1980s and 1990s, as well as in recessions in other countries, Tapia says. Health.com: How exercise may boost your mood
“In some sense it is good news,” he explains. “The usual view of a period of recession is that everything is bad during these periods.”
In a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tapia and his colleague Ana V. Diez Roux analyzed the economic growth and population health in the United States between 1920 and 1940, including the years of the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1933.
Life expectancy in general increased 8.8 years between 1920 and 1940, but gains fluctuated with the economy. Health.com: Will your depression diagnosis protect you from employment discrimination?
In Depth: Money and Main Street
They found that mortality declined and life expectancy increased during the Great Depression, as well as in the recessions of 1921 and 1938, compared with other years during that period. Suicides did increase during the Great Depression, but they made up less than 2 percent of deaths during that time.
When the researchers looked at six other major causes of death — including heart and kidney disease, tuberculosis, and traffic accidents — between 1920 and 1940, they noted that those causes all declined during recessions and rose during boom times. (A similar pattern was found for child and infant mortality too.) Health.com: Natural remedies for pain, sleep, PMS, and more
During the Great Depression, life expectancy increased from 57.1 years in 1929 to 63.3 years in 1933, and nonwhites in particular showed large gains; nonwhite males gained eight years in longevity during the Depression, increasing from 45.7 years in 1929 to 53.8 years in 1933.
Although he didn’t study homicide rates, Tapia says that some research suggests that homicides tend to drop during economic recessions.
Although it’s not clear why mortality rates might decrease during a recession, it is known that people tend to smoke and drink less, and they tend to eat out and drive less often, Tapia says. Although these are often for purely economic reasons, it can translate into fewer fatalities, he says.
Another theory is that in poor economic times, people come together and support one another more than they do when an economy is roaring, according to Tapia. Health.com: How to recognize the symptoms of depression
“This would improve the level of social cohesion and social support and could have a protective effect on health,” he says.
Christopher Ruhm, Ph.D., has conducted research on mortality during recent recessions. He says the new findings aren’t “out in left field” and are consistent with research in milder recessions. However, the magnitude of the effect — and that it appeared during a time of almost total economic collapse, not just a recession — was unexpected.
“When you have the collapse of an economy, I would have thought there would be other things going on that are more than reversing that,” says Ruhm, a professor of economics at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “The Soviet Union, when it broke up and the economy just collapsed, that wasn’t good for people’s health.”
MayoClinic.com: Health A – Z
Since doctors have made such strides with life expectancy in the past century (we are now expected to live until 77.7 years of age in the U.S.), the economy may have a smaller impact on health than the gains seen in the new study, he says.
“In a modern economy, I wouldn’t think you’d see anything near that large,” Ruhm says. His research suggests that for each percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, mortality drops by half a percent.
“That’s a nontrivial effect, but in terms of major determinants of health, it’s not the dominant determinant of health or anything close to it,” he says. Health.com: 10 things to say (and 10 not to say) to someone with depression
Ruhm says his research doesn’t provide any clues to coping with a job loss, but he has had people tell him they lost 30 pounds after being laid off because they stopped eating out and started exercising more. “That’s just anecdotal evidence, but it turns out the data provide some support for that,” he says.
According to Ruhm, outplacement counselors and therapists often advise people to take control of things they can do something about, such as paying attention to what you eat, trying to be a little more active, or working harder to connect with family. “At least the parts you can control, try to move those in a positive way — and the data suggest that people actually do that,” he says.
August 9, 2009
Radiotherapy used to treat brain tumours may lead to a decline in mental function many years down the line, say Dutch researchers.
A study of 65 patients, 12 years after they were treated, found those who had radiotherapy were more likely to have problems with memory and attention.
Writing in The Lancet Neurology, the researchers said doctors should hold off using radiotherapy where possible.
One UK expert said doctors were cautious about using radiotherapy.
The patients in the study all had a form of brain tumour called a low-grade glioma – one of the most common types of brain tumour.
In these cases radiotherapy is commonly given after initial surgery to remove the tumour, but there is some debate about whether this should be done immediately or used only if the cancer returns.
It is known that radiation treatment in the brain causes some damage to normal tissue and the study’s researchers suspected it could lead to decline in mental function.
A previous study in the same patients done six years after treatment found no difference in aspects like memory, attention and the speed at which people could process information, in those who had received radiotherapy.
But the latest research, carried out more than a decade after original treatment, did find significant variation in the results of several mental tests between those who had had radiotherapy and those who had not.
In all, 53% of patients who had radiotherapy showed decline in brain function compared with 27% of patients who only had surgery.
The most profound differences were in tests to measure attention.
With an average survival of ten years for this type of tumour, the researchers said patients undergoing radiotherapy were at considerable risk of developing problem years down the road.
One option for doctors would be to delay when patients received radiotherapy, reserving it in case the tumour returned, they advised.
“It always depends on the patient, but if it is possible to defer radiotherapy, maybe people should,” said study leader Dr Linda Douw, from the Department of Neurology at VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam.
But she added that more research was needed and there were trials under way to look at other treatments such as chemotherapy.
In an accompanying article, experts from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA, said it was hard to draw conclusions because radiotherapy had improved since the patients in the study had been treated, but agreed more studies were needed.
Dr Jeremy Rees, a Cancer Research UK scientist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery Honorary said they would usually try to avoid giving radiotherapy to patients with low-grade glioma, unless the tumour was progressing or the patient had epilepsy not controlled on standard medication.
“Surgery is generally a preferred option with chemotherapy or radiotherapy coming into play at a later stage, if the glioma progresses.
“Continued research and increased knowledge about the disease is enabling us to treat it increasingly effectively while reducing side effects.”