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Br J Cancer. 2000 Jan;82(2):255-62.

Cognitive and academic outcome following cranial irradiation and chemotherapy in children: a longitudinal study.

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Dept. Psychology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Cranial irradiation therapy (CRT) and chemotherapy are associated with neurobehavioural deficits. Many studies have investigated late effects of these treatments, but few have evaluated changes in abilities over time. This study employed a longitudinal design to map abilities following these treatments. Three groups of children were studied: Group 1 (n = 35): children treated with CRT (18 Gy) + chemotherapy, aged 5 years or less at time of diagnosis; Group 2 (n = 19): children treated with chemotherapy alone, aged 5 years or less at time of diagnosis; Group 3 (n = 35): healthy children. All children were aged 7-13 years at time of initial assessment, with no pre-diagnosis history of neurologic, developmental, or psychiatric disorder. Intellectual and educational abilities were evaluated twice: T1, not less than 2 years post-treatment, and T2, 3 years later. Group 1 achieved poorest results at T1, with comparison groups performing similarly. At T2 group differences were maintained. For verbal skills differences remained stable. Group 1 exhibited deterioration on non-verbal and processing tasks, while comparison groups showed improved abilities. Group 1 exhibited increases in literacy skills, with educational intervention predicting progress. Results suggest cumulative deficits in non-verbal and information processing skills for children treated with CRT + chemotherapy, with other deficits remaining relatively stable over time. Improved literacy skills suggest that gains can occur with remediation.

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