Neurodevelopmental status of infants and young children treated for brain tumors with preirradiation chemotherapy

R. K. Mulhern, M. E. Horowitz, E. H. Kovnar, J. Langston, R. A. Sanford, L. E. Kun

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63 Scopus citations


In an effort to reduce the severity of late neurotoxicities associated with cranial irradiation, 14 infants and young children with malignant brain tumors were given preirradiation chemotherapy for 2 to 22 months (median, 8 months). Prospective neurodevelopmental evaluations were routinely conducted and now extend from 35 to 60 months (median, 41 months) postdiagnosis, and 10 to 52 months (median, 31 months) postirradiation in the 12 surviving children. At the initiation of chemotherapy, less than one fourth of the patients displayed normal performance status or mental functioning on age-corrected tests; the majority remained stable or declined while receiving chemotherapy. Declining mental development and adaptive behavior were noted in six patients following radiation therapy with only two patients now functioning in the normal range for age. The analysis suggests that neurodevelopmental progress is a function of multiple factors, including neurologic and sensorimotor deficits associated with the tumor, surgical intervention, and chemotherapy that antedated radiation therapy. This implies that delaying irradiation will not necessarily improve the patients' functional status. Whether the interval of postponement of irradiation evidenced in this sample will translate into an ultimately better quality of life remains unknown. Given the probable interaction of multiple risk factors, well-controlled prospective clinical trials are needed to definitively analyze this issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1660-1666
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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