Epilepsy in patients with a brain tumour: focal epilepsy requires focused treatment

Marjolein de Groot, Jaap C. Reijneveld, Eleonora Aronica, Jan J. Heimans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Brain tumours frequently cause epileptic seizures. Medical antiepileptic treatment is often met with limited success. Pharmacoresistance, drug interactions and adverse events are common problems during treatment with antiepileptic drugs. The unpredictability of epileptic seizures and the treatment-related problems deeply affect the quality of life of patients with a brain tumour. In this review, we focus on both clinical and basic aspects of possible mechanisms in epileptogenesis in patients with a brain tumour. We provide an overview of the factors that are involved in epileptogenesis, starting focally at the tumour and the peritumoral tissue and eventually extending to alterations in functional connectivity throughout the brain. We correlate this knowledge to the known mechanisms of antiepileptic drugs. We conclude that the underlying mechanisms of epileptogenesis in patients with a brain tumour are poorly understood. The currently available antiepileptic drugs have little to no influence on the known epileptogenic mechanisms that could contribute to the poor efficacy. Better understanding of focal changes that are involved in epileptogenesis may provide new tools for optimal treatment of both the seizures and the underlying tumour. In our opinion, therapy for every patient with a brain tumour suffering from epilepsy should first and foremost aim at eliminating the tumour as well as the epileptic focus through resection combined with postoperative treatment, and only if this strategy does not result in adequate seizure control should medical antiepileptic treatment be intensified. If this strategy, however, results in sustained seizure freedom, tapering of antiepileptic drugs should be considered in the long term
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1002-1016
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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