Neuropsychological functioning in childhood cancer survivors following cranial radiotherapy - results from a long-term follow-up clinic

Neurocase. 2022 Apr;28(2):163-172. doi: 10.1080/13554794.2022.2049825. Epub 2022 May 12.


Treatment of malignant childhood posterior fossa tumors (CPFT) often includes surgical resection and craniospinal radiotherapy (CSI). Nasopharyngeal tumors in childhood (CNPHT) are often treated with surgery and radiotherapy (RT), leading to incidental brain irradiation. RT to the developing brain is associated with risks for cognitive impairments. We studied cognitive functioning, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), fatigue, and psychological distress, in adult survivors of CPFT and CNPHT, representing two groups, which had received high and low radiation dose-exposure to the brain, respectively. Cognitive tests were used to compare CPFT (n = 12) and CNPHT (n = 7) survivors to matched healthy controls (n = 28). HRQOL data was compared to the general population (GP) (n = 1415-1459). Average follow-up was 23 (CPFT) and 19 years (CNPHT). CPFT survivors had significant deficits in all cognitive domains. CNPHT survivors showed results below the control group but differed statistically only on one executive test. HRQOL-ratings indicated that both groups had similar self-reported cognitive problems. CPFT survivors reported more emotional problems and fatigue. Anxiety was seen in both CPFT and CNPHT survivors. This study confirmed long-term cognitive sequelae after RT in adult survivors of CPFT,and possible RT-induced cognitive deficits in adult CNPHT survivors.

Keywords: Childhood cancer survivors; brain neoplasm; cognition; nasopharyngeal neoplasms; psychological distress; quality of life; radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors* / psychology
  • Child
  • Fatigue
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life / psychology