A systematic review of cognitive function in patients with glioblastoma undergoing surgery.


BACKGROUND: Patients with glioblastoma (GB) are more likely to suffer cognitive deficits with poor quality of life as compared with lower-grade glioma patient groups, for whom cognition research is plentiful. The objective of this systematic review is to evaluate the cognitive function of patients with GB before and after surgery. METHODS: This review was prospectively registered with PROSPERO. PubMed and EMBASE searches were performed, most recently March 15, 2018. Inclusion criteria were adult patients, histologically confirmed GB, and cognitive tests conducted before and/or after surgery. Screening and data extraction were carried out independently by 2 authors. RESULTS: A total of 512 abstracts were screened. Nineteen studies were included with 902 participants, of whom only 423 had histologically confirmed GB. Only 11 studies tested cognitive function both before and after surgery. A total of 114 different cognitive tests were used. The most common test was used in only 9 studies; 82 tests were used only once. Follow-up time ranged from 1 week to 16 months with extremely high dropout rates. Eighteen of 19 studies reported cognitive deficits in their samples, with prevalence ranging from 22% to 100% (median 64%, interquartile range 42%). Only 1/11 longitudinal studies reported normal cognitive function, 3/11 reported initial deficits with improvement after surgery, 3/11 reported static deficits, and 4/11 reported deterioration. CONCLUSION: There is a consistently high risk of cognitive deficit for patients with GB undergoing surgery. The included studies showed marked heterogeneity in study design, case-mix of included diagnoses, and the type and timing of cognitive tests used. We highlight considerations for the design of future studies to avoid such bias.