Social Outcomes Good for Most Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors

Majority exhibit positive social adjustment over long term; risk factors ID'd for lasting issues

FRIDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- While the majority of survivors of pediatric embryonal tumors display positive social outcomes several years after diagnosis and treatment, specific risk factors may affect social adjustment and behavior over the long term, according to research published online Oct. 15 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Tara M. Brinkman, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues conducted a five-year, prospective, longitudinal study involving 220 survivors of pediatric embryonal tumors to evaluate social outcomes for these children.

The researchers found that, on measures of social functioning, few children were reported to have clinically elevated scores. Although the mean scores differed significantly from population norms, they were within the average range. Compared with patients with average-risk treatment status, children with high-risk treatment status were significantly more likely to have increased social problems and display withdrawn/depressed behavior. Over time, there were greater parent-reported social problems for those with posterior fossa syndrome. Compared with male patients, females exhibited higher withdrawn/depressed scores over time. Parent report of social functioning also correlated with patient intelligence, age at diagnosis, and parent education level.

"Results of this study largely suggest positive social adjustment several years after diagnosis and treatment of a pediatric embryonal tumor," the authors write. "However, several factors, including treatment risk status and posterior fossa syndrome, may be important precursors of long-term social outcomes. Future research is needed to elucidate the trajectory of social functioning as these patients transition into adulthood."

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