Childhood Brain Tumor Survivors Often Struggle in School

Grades were lower, especially in language classes, study found

MONDAY, July 16, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Children who've had brain tumors tend to do worse in school than other children, a Finnish study finds.

Foreign language classes, especially, prove most difficult for young brain tumor survivors, the researchers found.

This is the first study to examine how having a brain tumor affects school childrens' grades, the team said.

"These results will help us identify brain tumor survivors who are at greatest risk for school failure and may need remedial help as early as possible," study author Dr. Paivi Lahteenmaki of Turku University Hospital said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues compared the 9th-grade report cards of 300 students who'd had brain tumors treated with surgery or radiation to the report cards of almost 1,500 healthy students.

Brain tumor survivors had significantly lower grades in all subjects, particularly in foreign language classes. This was especially true for girls. The study found that more than 58 percent of female brain tumor survivors had grades lower than eight (4 = fail, 10 = excellent) in foreign language classes, compared to 38 percent of healthy students.

"It appears verbal performance is the area most seriously affected for brain tumor survivors. This may be a reflection of a diminished ability to learn new information," said Lahteenmaki, who noted that girls may be more sensitive than boys to radiation therapy-related cognitive decline.

The study is published in the July 17 issue of the journal Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about childhood brain tumors.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, July 16, 2007
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