The elderly make up a substantial portion of patients diagnosed with the deadly brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Unfortunately, a general assumption that they have an increased risk of surgical complications means their prognosis is often worse than average. Ironically, for this reason, the elderly are routinely excluded from clinical trials and there is a dearth of data to back up this assumption.
Neurosurgeons at Columbia University Medical Center, who specialize in the treatment of this deadly disease, gathered data from the medical records of patients over the age of 65 surgically treated for GBM between the years 2000 and 2012.
The result of their survey was a paper, Perioperative Morbidity Following Craniotomy for Glioblastoma in Elderly Patients, that was presented at the recent annual meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
The paper was co-authored by Columbia medical student Michael Brendan Cloney, neurosurgical residents Dr. Adam M. Sonabend and Dr. Brad E. Zacharia, and neurosurgeons Dr. Jeffrey N. Bruce, Dr. Michael B. Sisti, and Dr. Guy M. McKhann.*
The goals of their presentation were to impart the importance of understanding surgical intervention for elderly patients with GBM and to review the empirical evidence regarding the safety of surgical removal of these tumors in the elderly.
The authors concluded, “Surgical resection is tolerable in elderly patients with GBM, including recurrent disease. These results might contribute to the risk-benefit discussion regarding surgical management of GBM for this important population.”
The compilation of this data is an important step in filling a gap of evidence surrounding the risks of tumor removal in elderly GBM patients that will, in turn, lead to more serious consideration of all treatment options in the fight against this deadly disease.
*A full listing of co-authors of the paper are as follows: Michael Brendan Cloney, Adam M. Sonabend, Brad E. Zacharia, Christopher R. Showers, Matthew Nazarian, Jeffrey N. Bruce, Michael B. Sisti, Guy M. McKhann.
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