Different profiles of neurocognitive functioning in patients with brain metastases prior to brain radiotherapy

Eva E van Grinsven, Fia Cialdella, Joost J C Verhoeff, Marielle E P Philippens, Martine J E van Zandvoort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Patients with brain metastases (BrMs) are a heterogeneous population, with almost 50% experiencing cognitive impairment before brain radiotherapy. Defining pre-radiotherapy cognitive profiles will aid in understanding of the cognitive vulnerabilities and offer valuable insight and guidance for tailoring interventions.

METHODS: The study population consisted of 58 adult patients with BrMs referred for radiotherapy. A semi-structured interview and comprehensive battery including 10 neuropsychological tests were used to assess subjective and objective cognitive performance prior to radiotherapy.

RESULTS: A majority (69%) of patients report decline in cognitive performance compared to their premorbid level (i.e. pre-cancer). Objective testing revealed memory (52%), processing speed (33%) and emotion recognition (29%) deficits were most frequent. 21% of patients had no cognitive deficits while 55% had deficits (-1.5SD) in at least two cognitive domains. Hierarchical cluster analysis based on patient deficit profiles identified four clusters: (I) no or limited cognitive deficits selectively restricted to processing speed or executive function, (II) psychomotor speed deficits, (III) memory deficits and (IV) extensive cognitive deficits including memory. No patient or clinical-related (e.g. age, number of BrMs, previous treatment) differences were found between clusters.

CONCLUSIONS: Patterns of cognitive performance in patients with BrMs are heterogeneous, with most experiencing at least some degree of neurocognitive dysfunction. We identified four meaningful cognitive clusters. Stability of these clusters over time and in different samples should be assessed to advance understanding of the cognitive vulnerability of this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1752-1761
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Early online date3 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • brain metastases (BrMs)
  • brain tumor
  • cancer
  • cluster analysis
  • cognition
  • neurocognitive functioning
  • neuropsychology
  • oncology
  • radiotherapy

Cite this