Author(s): Cantelmi D, Schweizer TA, Cusimano MD
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Abstract The lengthened survival of patients with tumours of the posterior fossa has brought awareness of the neurocognitive deficits present in this patient population. In the past, these deficits were thought to be caused by radiotherapy damaging supratentorial structures known to be responsible for cognitive processing. This notion led to the development of new treatment protocols to restrict damage to supratentorial regions by decreasing the radiation dose and the irradiated volume. However, these treatment protocols have only resulted in marginal improvements, sometimes at the expense of long-term survival. Moreover, the current published work reports that non-irradiated patients with tumours of the posterior fossa exhibit similar cognitive impairments to irradiated patients. The growth and treatment of tumours of the posterior fossa also damage infratentorial structures, including the cerebellum. Findings from anatomical, clinical, and neuroimaging studies support a role for the cerebellum in cognitive functions similar to those impaired in patients with a tumour of the posterior fossa. Despite these findings, research focused on the treatment of these patients and on decreasing their cognitive impairments either ignores that the cerebellum has been implicated in non-motor functions or argues against the possibility that damage to the cerebellum might result in cognitive sequelae. Future studies need to address the possibility that the cognitive impairments of patients with tumours of the posterior fossa might be determined by a combination of factors, including damage to the cerebellum. Recognition of the important cognitive contributions of the cerebellum might lead to improved cognitive outcome and quality of life for this patient population.
This article was published in Lancet Oncol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals