The median survival duration for patients with glioblastoma is approximately 12 months. Maximizing quality of life (QOL) for patients with glioblastoma is a priority. An important, yet understudied, QOL component is functional independence. The aims of this study were to evaluate functional outcomes over time for patients with glioblastoma, as well as identify factors associated with prolonged functional independence.
All patients who underwent first-time resection of either a primary (de novo) or secondary (prior lower grade glioma) glioblastoma at a single institution from 1996 to 2006 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with a Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score ≥ 80 were included. Kaplan-Meier, log-rank, and multivariate proportional hazards regression analyses were used to identify associations (p < 0.05) with functional independence (KPS score ≥ 60) following glioblastoma resection.
The median follow-up duration time was 10 months (interquartile range [IQR] 5.6–17.0 months). A patient's preoperative (p = 0.02) and immediate postoperative (within 2 months) functional status was associated with prolonged survival (p < 0.0001). Of the 544 patients in this series, 302 (56%) lost their functional independence at a median of 10 months (IQR 6–16 months). Factors independently associated with prolonged functional independence were: preoperative KPS score ≥ 90 (p = 0.004), preoperative seizures (p = 0.002), primary glioblastoma (p < 0.0001), gross-total resection (p < 0.0001), and temozolomide chemotherapy (p < 0.0001). Factors independently associated with decreased functional independence were: older age (p < 0.0001), coexistent coronary artery disease (p = 0.009), and incurring a new postoperative motor deficit (p = 0.009). Furthermore, a decline in functional status was independently associated with tumor recurrence (p = 0.01).
The identification and consideration of these factors associated with prolonged functional outcome (preoperative KPS score ≥ 90, seizures, primary glioblastoma, gross-total resection, temozolomide) and decreased functional outcome (older age, coronary artery disease, new postoperative motor deficit) may help guide treatment strategies aimed at improving QOL for patients with glioblastoma.