In surgery for tumors of the dominant hemisphere, the attention devoted to quality of resection and preservation of language function has not been accompanied by comparable interest in preservation of cognitive abilities which may affect quality of life. We studied 22 patients undergoing awake surgery for glioma removal in the language areas of the brain. Besides monitoring tumor variables (size, location, histology, edema), we used a multifaceted battery of tests to investigate mood, cognition, and language in an attempt to assess the burden of disease and treatment, and the relationships between these three dimensions. Baseline assessment showed that 45% of the patients were depressed and 23% anxious; some cognitive and language impairment was noted for 59 and 50%, respectively. A general decline in postoperative cognitive performance (significant for memory and attention only) and language function (significant for picture naming) was observed, whereas depression was unchanged and anxiety decreased. Tumor histology, but not demographic variables or extent of resection, correlated with postoperative cognitive changes: patients undergoing surgery for high-grade tumors were more likely to improve. No correlation was observed between scores for mood, cognition, and language function. A subset of patients with low-grade glioma was followed up for 3–6 months; although some improvement was observed they did not always regain their preoperative performance. In conclusion, we believe that cognitive assessment performed in conjunction with language testing is a necessary step in the global evaluation of brain tumor patients both before and after surgery.
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