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Nervous System Cancer Linked to Cognitive Impairment

Survivors more likely to have cognitive deficits resulting in lower education and employment

MONDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Survivors of childhood central nervous system (CNS) cancers are more likely to report reduced neurocognitive function resulting in lower education, employment and income in adulthood than survivors of other cancers, according to a study in the November issue of Neuropsychology.

Leah Ellenberg, Ph.D., of the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues surveyed neurocognitive function with a questionnaire assessing four factors (Task Efficiency, Emotional Regulation, Organization, and Memory) in 802 of 1,177 survivors of CNS cancers, 5,937 of 8,130 survivors of non-CNS cancers, and 382 of 500 siblings.

The researchers found that survivors of CNS cancers reported significantly more neurocognitive impairment in all four factors assessed than both other groups. Survivors of CNS cancers with sensory or motor deficits were more likely to report impairment in all four areas. Patients who had undergone brain irradiation and ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement were more likely to be impaired in task efficiency and memory. In addition, females were more likely to be impaired in task efficiency and emotional regulation, while patients diagnosed before 2 years of age were less likely to be impaired in memory. Reduced neurocognitive function was associated with lower educational achievement, lower household income, less full-time employment, and fewer marriages.

"Survivors of childhood CNS malignancy were found to be at significant risk for neurocognitive impairment that continues to adulthood and is correlated with lower socioeconomic achievement," the authors conclude.

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