Surgery for the most common type of benign brain tumor should be considered for patients 80 and older, Finnish researchers say.
Meningiomas originate in the meninges surrounding the brain, and the primary treatment is surgery. But the risks of operating increase with age, so surgery for meningioma patients who are 80 and older is rare in most countries, according to University of Helsinki researchers.
But they noted the life expectancy and well-being of elderly Finns have improved in recent decades, resulting in more elderly meningioma patients who are otherwise in good health and who have surgery for their brain tumor.
In this study, researchers examined outcomes among 83 meningioma patients age 80 and older who had the surgery at Helsinki University Hospital as of 2010.
Their life expectancy was the same as that of same-age people in Finland's general population, according to findings recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers also reported that nearly half of the patients who had been in institutional care due to their brain tumor were able to return home after surgery.
"Our findings demonstrate that surgically removing a tumor can improve life quality and even save lives in even very old brain tumor patients, especially when taking into consideration the poor prognosis, without surgical treatment, for over 80-year-old brain tumor patients who have lost their functional capacity," principal author Ilari Rautalin said in a university news release. He's from the university's Department of Neurosurgery.
Study supervisor Dr. Miikka Korja, head of neurosurgery at Helsinki University Hospital, noted that these are demanding operations with a high risk of complications.
"This is why we have had to consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether these relatively fragile elderly persons are able to tolerate such a surgery, which is stressful and demanding for the body, or whether we are ultimately causing more harm than good," said Korja, one of the neurosurgeons who perform meningioma surgeries on elderly patients.
He said the preliminary investigations offer relief and encouragement.
"Our surgical treatments make it possible for some elderly patients to return home from inpatient care, improving their functional capacity for the rest of their lives in the process," Korja said in the release.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on meningioma.
SOURCE: University of Helsinki, news release, June 21, 2021