Prognostic awareness, prognostic communication, and cognitive function in patients with malignant glioma

Eli L. Diamond, Holly G. Prigerson, Denise C. Correa, Anne Reiner, Katherine Panageas, Maria Kryza-Lacombe, Justin Buthorn, Elizabeth C. Neil, Alex M. Miller, Lisa M. Deangelis, Allison J. Applebaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Background. Malignant glioma (MG) is a devastating neuro-oncologic disease with almost invariably poor prognosis. Prognostic awareness (PA) is the awareness of incurable disease and shortened life expectancy (LE). Accurate PA is associated with favorable psychological outcomes at the end of life (EoL) for patients with cancer; however, little is known about PA or prognostic communication in MG. Moreover, research has yet to evaluate the impact of cognitive impairment on PA and preferred forms of communication. Methods. Fifty MG patients and 32 paired caregivers were evaluated in this exploratory study with a semi-structured PA assessment aimed to measure their awareness of MG incurability and LE. Full PA was defined as awareness of MG incurability and accurate estimate of LE. The assessment included a survey about preferences for prognostic communication (items from the Prognosis and Treatment Perceptions Questionnaire), neurocognitive assessment (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised, Trail Making Test Parts A and B, and the Controlled Oral Word Association Test), and measurements of mood (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and quality of life (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Brain [FACT-Br]). Results. Twenty (40%) patients and 22 (69%) caregivers had full PA. Thirty (60%) patients and 23 (72%) caregivers reported that prognostic information was extremely or very important, and 21 (42%) patients and 16 (50%) caregivers desired more prognostic information. Patients with memory impairment more frequently believed that prognostic information was important (P = 0.04, P = 0.03) and desired more information (P = 0.05, P = 0.003) as compared with those without impairment. Conclusions. Most MG patients were unaware of their LE. Memory impairment may influence preferences for prognostic information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1532-1541
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Translation and Integrative Medicine Award and the Brain Tumor Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (to E.L.D. and A.J.A.); the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Core Grant (P30 CA008748) awarded to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (to E.L.D.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017.The Author(s).


  • Communication
  • End of life
  • Glioblastoma
  • Malignant brain tumor
  • Quality of lifez


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