The significance of aphasia in neurological cancers

Dr. Elizabeth Paratz

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Dr. Elizabeth D Paratz
MBBS, University of Melbourne (2010)
Intern, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne

Elizabeth has just commenced internship at St Vincent’s Hospital, where she hopes in the longer-term to study for Physician Training. This review is based on her successful entry in fifth-year medical school for the 2009 Karl David Yeomans Prize for Brain Cancer.


Aphasia associated with brain tumours has previously been regarded as essentially equivalent to the aphasia of stroke, and as a deficit unlikely to affect a patient’s prognosis. Recent research challenges such hypotheses. Tumour-related aphasias are commonly anomic aphasias, and hence pathologically distinct from classic post-stroke aphasias. Accordingly, many rules from the world of stroke cannot be readily translated to the management of tumour-related aphasia. Furthermore, aphasia may be an important clinical prognostic parameter in neuro-oncology. Tumour-related aphasia is associated with an increased risk for developing depression, poorer coping and reduced survival time. It is important that health professionals are aware of the unique pathology and prognostic significance of neuro-oncological aphasia, and of strategies available for its relief.