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J Pediatr. 2001 Sep;139(3):413-20.

Slight cognitive impairment and magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities but normal school levels in children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia with chemotherapy only.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Oncology/Hematology, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



To investigate persistent neuropsychologic late effects in children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at a young age with chemotherapy only by means of serial neuropsychologic assessments (NPAs), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, and evaluation of school levels.


Consecutive patients (n = 17) had 2 extensive NPAs (12 psychometric measures) after cessation of therapy. Test results were compared with those of both healthy control subjects and 28 previously treated children who received cranial irradiation. MRI findings were related to test scores. School levels were evaluated in the patients and their healthy siblings.


Initial participation (n = 17) and availability of the study group after 8 years of follow-up were 100%. Significant group differences between patients who received chemotherapy and healthy control subjects were found for memory and fine-motor functioning. The 17 patients combined showed 16 deficits on various test measures. MRI abnormalities were seen in 6 children, but these did not correlate with cognitive performance. No differences in school levels were seen when the patients who received chemotherapy were compared with their siblings. The current nonirradiated patients demonstrated significantly better test results and significantly fewer learning disabilities and MRI abnormalities than did the previously irradiated group.


Treatment with chemotherapy only may be associated with some cognitive impairment. However, these children attained normal school levels.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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