Neurological complications of childhood malignancies

Acta Neurochir (Wien). 1999;141(12):1313-21. doi: 10.1007/s007010050436.


Between Jan 1982 to Jun 1994, 154 children with malignant non-central nervous system tumors, excluding leukemias and lymphomas, were admitted and treated at the UKMC. Fifty-one (33%) of these cases suffered with 64 neurological complications during the course of their diseases. Nine cases suffered with multiple neurological complications. Nervous system metastasis was the most common neurological complication (n = 24; 15.6%), which was followed by nervous system infection (n = 17; 11%). Twelve (7.7%) cases had treatment related peripheral or cranial neuropathies. Seven (4.5%) cases had new onset of grand-mall seizures. One case had paraneoplastic syndrome, one case had panhypopituitarism secondary to whole brain radiation, and one case had Horner's syndrome secondary to tumor removal. Ten cases suffered with neurological sequelae secondary to neurological complications. Three of these cases suffered with developmental delay and mental retardation. Fifty-one patients with neurological complications were followed for 9 to 102 months. While 30 (19.7%) patients were alive, 20 (13%) patients died and one case was lost during the analysis of the results. Neuroblastoma/ganglioneuroblastoma has the highest rate for causing neurological complication.

In conclusion: neurological complications were seen on 33% of childhood solid malignant tumors. Nervous system metastasis had the worst prognosis and the most frequent neurological complication. Neurological complications did not increase the mortality rate, but one-third of surviving patients with neurological complications suffered with neurological sequelae.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Female
  • Ganglioneuroblastoma / complications
  • Ganglioneuroblastoma / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neuroblastoma / complications
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnosis
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / etiology