Purpose: To describe the neurologic and neurosensory deficits in children with brain tumors (BTs), compare incidence of these deficits with that of a sibling control group, and evaluate the factors associated with the development of these deficits.
Patients and methods: Detailed questionnaires were completed on 1,607 patients diagnosed between 1970 and 1986 with a primary CNS tumor. Neurosensory and neurologic dysfunctions were assessed and results compared with those of a sibling control group. Medical records on all patients were abstracted, including radiotherapy dose and volume.
Results: Seventeen percent of patients developed neurosensory impairment. Relative to the sibling comparison group, patients surviving BTs were at elevated risk for hearing impairments (relative risk [RR], 17.3; P = <.0001), legal blindness in one or both eyes (RR, 14.8; P = <.0001), cataracts (RR, 11.9; P = <.0001), and double vision (RR, 8.8; P = <.0001). Radiation exposure greater than 50 Gy to the posterior fossa was associated with a higher likelihood of developing any hearing impairment. Coordination and motor control problems were reported in 49% and 26%, respectively, of survivors. Children receiving at least 50 Gy to the frontal brain regions had a moderately elevated risk for motor problems (RR, 2.0; P <.05). Seizure disorders were reported in 25% of patients, including 6.5% who had a late first occurrence. Radiation dose of 30 Gy or more to any cortical segment of the brain was associated with a two-fold elevated risk for a late seizure disorder.
Conclusion: Children surviving BTs are at significant risk for both early and late neurologic or neurosensory sequelae. These sequelae need to be prospectively monitored.