(HealthDay)—The majority of patients undergoing skull base irradiation for cancer have no detectable cognitive impairment, but about one-third may have ambiguous results with a self-reporting tool, according to a study published online Aug. 1 in Head & Neck.

Chase C. Hansen, M.D., from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues quantified and objective cognitive dysfunction in 122 irradiated for skull base . The researchers utilized the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) and the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory-Head and Neck module (MDASI-HN).

The researchers found that the majority (63 percent) had no frank detectable cognitive impairment by TICS. Frank impairment was seen in 6 percent of patients. The MDASImemory cut-off point of ≥5 was associated with detectable cognitive impairment by TICS, yet no MDASImemory threshold was associated with unambiguous absence of impairment by TICS.

"Approximately one-third of patients had ambiguous results by TICS assessment, for whom more rigorous testing may be warranted," the authors write. "Moderate-to-severe levels of patient-reported memory complaints on the MDASI-HN module may have utility as a screening tool for cognitive dysfunction in this population."

One author disclosed financial ties to General Electric Healthcare and Elekta AB.