Child Neuroblastoma Survivors at Risk for Psych Impairment

child with head down and hand in stop sign
child with head down and hand in stop sign
Neuroblastoma survivors are at elevated risk for psychological impairment.

HealthDay News — Neuroblastoma survivors are at elevated risk for psychological impairment, according to a study published online June 11 in Cancer.

Daniel J. Zheng, M.D., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues evaluated the long-term psychological and educational outcomes of 859 survivors of neuroblastoma (≥5-year survivors of neuroblastoma younger than 18 years) and 872 siblings of childhood cancer survivors (younger than 18 years).

Over a median follow-up of 13.3 years, the researchers found that neuroblastoma survivors had an increased prevalence of impairment in the domains of anxiety/depression, headstrong behavior, attention deficits, peer conflict/social withdrawal, and antisocial behavior, compared to siblings. Impairment was not tied to common treatment exposures (vincristine, cisplatin, and retinoic acid). Impairment was predicted by having at least two chronic health conditions, particularly for pulmonary disease, endocrine disease, and peripheral neuropathy. Use of special education services and educational attainment less than college were associated with psychological impairment.

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“These findings are novel because this is the first large study that could look at how neuroblastoma patients are doing in terms of psychological and educational outcomes,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Our hope is that these findings will help inform strategies for early screening and intervention to identify those survivors at highest risk for developing psychological and educational impairment later on in life.”

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