The news that a new brain tumor treatment may circumvent IQ loss could make parents who have an offspring that suffers from pediatric brain tumors rest a bit more easy. But one has to take into account that even if the new treatment does show a rather significant decrease in IQ loss, it still creates hindrances over time, unfortunately.
This new therapy comes in the form of Proton Beam Radiotherapy, or PBRT, differing from the normal method of using photons in order to remove brain tumors. When comparing numbers regarding IQ loss over extended periods of time, PBRT showed a decline of 0.7 IQ points per year while the traditional photon radiation treatment was marked at 1.1 points per year.
Even if the decrease is significantly lower, when comparing the slopes between the two methods of treatment, researchers found close to 0 differences. IQ still gradually decreases over time, regardless of the technique used, unfortunately.
But the fact that PBRT somewhat spares patients from having neurocognitive disorders in the later stages of their life still remains. If at first glance, a 0.4 difference is not that great, when multiplied by ten years, this disparity can make the difference between an average child and a below average one.
Another problem regarding the use of PBRT is the fact that some studies have shown that this method of treatment causes a decrease in processing speeds in later stages of life. But due to the decreased number of patients undergoing PBRT treatments, missing data and the veritable inconclusiveness of neurocognitive tests, these studies have been more or less dismissed.
In order to prove if PBRT is a viable method of treating pediatric brain tumors, further studies have to be conducted on the matter, with more expansive clinical trials. In terms of safety, besides the side effect mentioned above, even if it was eventually somewhat dismissed, PBRT poses more or less the same threats as traditional photon radiotherapy.
One must take into account how due to the fact that photon therapy has been used extensively, the technology behind it has advanced as well, a factor that cannot be applied to PBRT. By improving the accuracy of the radiation beam in order to minimize the risk of developing additional adverse side-effects, photon therapy has become much more precise in comparison to PBRT.
Even if this new brain tumor treatment may circumvent IQ loss, it is still long ways off until reaching its full potential. Further inquiries and clinical studies have to be made in order to prove its viability, as well as if the 0.4 decrease in yearly IQ loss is worth the sacrifice of having slower processing speeds.