In pediatric patients with brain tumors treated with radiation therapy


Background. Pediatric patients with brain tumors who are treated with radiation therapy (RT) are at risk for neurocognitive and psychosocial late effects. Research to date has primarily examined these outcomes at a group level and in isolation. Advanced statistical techniques allow for person-centered analyses, as well as examination of relationships between domain-specific trajectories. Methods. Patients with brain tumors (craniopharyngioma, ependymoma, low-grade astrocytoma, high-grade astrocytoma) were enrolled on a phase II clinical trial of RT.Three hundred and fifty patients completed serial neurocognitive assessments as part of their treatment monitoring, including pre-RT baseline, 6 months post-RT, and then yearly for 5 years.This secondary analysis focused on outcomes of cognition (estimated IQ, parent-reported attention problems) and psychosocial effects (parent-reported socialization and social problems) post-RT. Results. Latent growth curve modeling indicated that estimated IQ and socialization were best served by quadratic models, while attention and social problems were best served by linear models. Growth mixture modeling indicated 3-class models were the best fit for IQ and socialization, and 2-class models for attention and social problems. Baseline IQ and socialization scores were associated, but there was no association over time.Young age at diagnosis and pre-RT treatments (surgery, chemotherapy) were associated with class membership. Conclusions. Person-centered statistical analyses provide rich information regarding the variability in neurocognitive and psychosocial functioning following RT for pediatric brain tumor. While many patients do well over time, a subset are exhibiting significant cognitive and/or psychosocial deficits. Class membership was associated with some medical factors (eg, pre-radiation surgery/chemotherapy, age at diagnosis, shunted hydrocephalus).

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