Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Health Sciences (M.H.S.)

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Debra Burg

Second Advisor

Wendy Sherman

Third Advisor

Steven Pastyrnak

Academic Year



Patients diagnosed with high grade glioma have a short life expectancy due to rapid progression of disease following and/or during treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the primary method of surveying tumor progression, but is costly, lengthy in duration and often uncomfortable for the patient. An alternative to MRI that is cost efficient and patient friendly is of great interest to the medical community. If this alternative could also provide advanced notification of disease progression, then this patient population would have the opportunity for earlier treatment and the potential for greater efficacy. To pursue this concept, we assessed whether the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) could be that MRI alternative, potentially providing an early identifier of disease progression for the high grade glioma population. We retrospectively assessed a variety of medical and surgical data points, in conjunction with the MoCA scores for individuals with a high grade glioma diagnosis who received surgery and/or biopsy with radiation treatment and had at least one instance of disease progression. Of the 128 subjects intended to fulfill our sample size requirement, only 5 subjects qualified for enrollment. Our statistical tests were greatly impacted by this unfortunate circumstance and because of this we were not able to support the MoCA as hypothesized because the results did not reach the level of statistical significance. We have identified many interesting trends, but without an appropriate sample size these cannot be validated. We hope the study concept and design will provide the basis for future research that can build upon our hypothesis and provide a definite answer.