Epilepsy in the end-of-life phase in patients with high-grade gliomas

Andrea Pace, Veronica Villani, Cherubino Di Lorenzo, Lara Guariglia, Marta Maschio, Alfredo Pompili, Carmine Maria Carapella

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Epilepsy is common in patients with brain tumors. Patients presenting seizures as the first sign of a malignant glioma are at increased risk of recurrent seizures despite treatment with antiepileptic drugs. However, little is known about the incidence of epilepsy in the last stage of disease and in the end-of-life phase of brain tumor patients. We retrospectively analyzed the incidence of seizures in the last months of life in a series of patients affected by high-grade gliomas who were assisted at home during the whole course of the disease until death. A total of 157 patients were available for analysis. Of these patients, 58 (36.9 %) presented seizures in the last month before death. The risk of seizures in the end-of-life phase is higher in patients presenting previous history of epilepsy, particularly in patients with late-onset epilepsy. Out of the 58 patients presenting seizures in the last month of life, 86.2 % had previously had seizures and 13.8 % were seizure free. Most patients may encounter swallowing difficulties in taking anticonvulsants orally due to dysphagia and disturbances of consciousness, thus anticonvulsant treatment needs to be modified in advance. Loss of seizure control in the end-of-life phase may influence the quality of life of patients and their caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-86
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Anticonvulsant drugs
  • Brain tumor
  • End of life
  • Epilepsy
  • High-grade gliomas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Neurology


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