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Pediatric Brain Tumors: Cognitive Effects in Adulthood


Children with central nervous system (CNS) tumors have good prognoses; 75% will live at least five years after diagnosis. Unfortunately, a recent study has shown that these survivors experience neuropsychological problems and lower socioeconomic status later in life compared with their healthy peers.

For this study, published in Cancer, the researchers analyzed data on 181 adult survivors of pediatric low-grade gliomas from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study and compared them with a group of 105 siblings, frequency-matched by age and gender. Both groups were required to complete comprehensive standardized neuropsychological tests and a socioeconomic status assessment.

The investigators found that children with gliomas treated with surgery and radiotherapy had lower IQ scores compared with those treated with surgery alone. Both of these groups scored lower on IQ tests than their healthy siblings. Except for the attention/processing speed category, all survivors diagnosed at younger ages had low scores for all categories. Survivors who were administered surgery and radiotherapy also scored lower on socioeconomic status assessments regarding occupation scores, and they had lower incomes and less education than did survivors who had been treated with surgery only.

"Late effects in adulthood are evident even for children with the least malignant types of brain tumors who were treated with the least toxic therapies available at the time. Also, these neurocognitive and socioeconomic risks are evident many decades after treatment," commented the study's lead author, M. Douglas Ris, PhD, Professor and Head of the Psychology Section in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "As pediatric brain tumors become more survivable with continued advances in treatments, we need to improve surveillance of these populations so that survivors continue to receive the best interventions during their transition to adulthood and well beyond."

For More Information

Ris MD, Leisenring WM, Goodman P, et al (2019). Neuropsychological and socioeconomic outcomes in adult survivors of pediatric low-grade glioma. Cancer. [Epub ahead of print] DOI:10.1002/cncr.32186

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