Palliative care and end-of-life care in adults with malignant brain tumors

Johan A. F. Koekkoek, Pim B. van der Meer, Andrea Pace, Caroline Hertler, Rebecca Harrison, Heather E. Leeper, Deborah A. Forst, Rakesh Jalali, Kathy Oliver, Jennifer Philip, Martin J. B. Taphoorn, Linda Dirven, Tobias Walbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: This systematic review provides updated insights, from the published literature in the past 5 years, based on the 2017 European Association of Neuro-Oncology (EANO) guidelines for palliative care in adults with malignant brain tumors. It provides an overview of palliative care options, including during the end-of-life phase for patients with malignant brain tumors. METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted from 2016 to 2021 focusing on four main topics: (1) symptom management, (2) caregiver needs, (3) early palliative care, and (4) care in the end-of-life phase. An international panel of palliative care experts in neuro-oncology synthesized the literature and reported the most relevant updates. A total of 140 articles were included. RESULTS: New insights include that: Hippocampal avoidance and stereotactic radiosurgery results in a lower risk of neurocognitive decline in patients with brain metastases; levetiracetam is more efficacious in reducing seizures than valproic acid as first-line monotherapy antiseizure drug (ASD) in glioma patients; lacosamide and perampanel seem well-tolerated and efficacious add-on ASDs; and a comprehensive framework of palliative and supportive care for high-grade glioma patients and their caregivers was proposed. No pharmacological agents have been shown in randomized controlled trials to significantly improve fatigue or neurocognition. CONCLUSIONS: Since the 2017 EANO palliative care guidelines, new insights have been reported regarding symptom management and end-of-life care, however, most recommendations remain unchanged. Early palliative care interventions are essential to define goals of care and minimize symptom burden in a timely fashion. Interventional studies that address pain, fatigue, and psychiatric symptoms as well as (the timing of) early palliative care are urgently needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-456
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023

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