The neurodevelopmental price of survival in children with malignant brain tumours
Increasing survival rates in malignant brain tumors treatment have directed attention to the side effects of long-term disease control. Nevertheless, although the treatment protocols are continuously remodelled, the quality of life of children surviving for a long time is still poor. The most severe sequelae are neurocognitive disorders, which are associated with neurobehavioural alterations. The last are partly derived directly from the lesion localisation and treatments, but are often reinforced by academic and social failure. The deleterious effect of radiotherapy (CRT) is very well documented and confirmed in all the studies. The radiation dose delivered according to the age has reduced, but not fully eliminated, the negative influence on mental functioning. Also the CRT hyperfractionation has reduced, but not cancelled, this cognitive negative impact. Intrathecal methotrexate per se is responsible for a severe cognitive impairment, which can be even more severe in association to CRT. Some surgical approaches have been responsible for postoperative behavioural disturbances. Serial neuropsychological and behavioural evaluations, which should also include the survivors’ own perception of their quality of life, are badly needed. The results of these evaluations should be covariate with several factors (age, type of surgery, lesion site, hydrocephalus, complementary therapies) in an attempt to define interdisciplinary treatment protocols to maximise survival while minimising cognitive/behavioural deficits.
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