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Suicide ideation in pediatric and adult survivors of childhood brain tumors

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Survivors of pediatric brain tumors are at risk for long-term psychological morbidities. The current study investigated the prevalence and predictors of suicide ideation (SI) in a clinical sample of youth and adult survivors. Retrospective chart reviews were completed for 319 survivors of pediatric brain tumors who were assessed via clinical interview during routine neuro-oncology clinic visits between 2003 and 2007. Survivors were, on average, 18.0 years of age (SD = 4.9) and 10 years from diagnosis (SD = 5.0) at their most recent follow-up. The most common diagnosis was low-grade glioma (n = 162) followed by embryonal tumors (PNET/medulloblastoma; n = 64). Multivariable logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) for SI. Nearly 12 % of survivors (11.7 %, n = 37) reported SI. Five survivors (1.5 %) had documented suicide attempts, though none were fatal. In a multivariable model, adjusting for sex and age, history of depression (OR = 20.6, 95 % CI = 4.2–101.1), psychoactive medication treatment (OR = 4.5, 95 % CI = 1.8–11.2), observation or surgery only treatment (OR = 3.7, 95 % CI = 1.5–9.1), and seizures (OR = 3.6, 95 % CI = 1.1–11.1) were significantly associated with SI in survivors. Survivors of pediatric brain tumors appear to be at risk for experiencing SI. Our results underscore the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to providing follow-up care for childhood brain tumor survivors, including routine psychological screenings.

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This work was supported, in part, by the Stop and Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Clinical and Research Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Correspondence to Tara M. Brinkman.

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Brinkman, T.M., Liptak, C.C., Delaney, B.L. et al. Suicide ideation in pediatric and adult survivors of childhood brain tumors. J Neurooncol 113, 425–432 (2013).

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