Childhood brain tumour survivors may face mental issues: Study

New York, Feb 8 (IANS) Cancer survivors of childhood brain tumours show significant deficits in intelligence, educational achievement and employment, even decades after treatment, reveals a new research.

Survivors treated with a whole brain and spinal cord radiation therapy had nearly three times the risk of severe impairment in intelligence, compared with survivors not treated with radiation; as well as similar impairments in other cognitive skills like attention and memory, the study said.

The survivors were also at nearly four-fold increased risk of severely impaired academic skills, the findings showed.

In addition, survivors were more likely to be unemployed and to be living with parents or caretakers, the researchers said.

“Our study was the most comprehensive analysis of a large cohort of adult survivors of pediatric brain tumours, with direct assessment of their cognitive functioning and the resulting impact on social attainment,” said Tara Brinkman from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, US.

Brinkman added that the findings of thee study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology would help in developing screening techniques to reveal cognitive problems in survivors and guidelines on following up on their treatment, but at treatment centres across the country.

Researchers tested 224 adult survivors of childhood brain tumours, such as medulloblastoma — most common type of paediatric malignant primary brain tumour, who were aged 19 to 53 years.

The patients had been treated with radiation to the whole brain and spinal cord; or radiation only to the specific location of the tumour; or with no radiation.

The researchers tested the survivors’ intelligence, memory, attention and academic ability.

Participants also completed a questionnaire about the impact of cognitive problems on daily life and reported on their educational attainment, employment and whether they live independently.

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