Intelligence and Academic Achievement in Ten-Year Survivors of Childhood Medulloblastoma




McDonald, Noelle Kristen

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Advances in the treatment of childhood medulloblastoma have markedly increased survival rates in recent decades. Although survival rates have improved, research has demonstrated that significant cognitive consequences are common in patients who have survived medulloblastoma. Few studies exist that examine the extent of long-term cognitive impairment as far as 10 years after treatment. The present pilot study examined the intellectual and academic achievement in a sample of 16 ten-year survivors of childhood medulloblastoma treated with surgery and craniospinal radiation. In addition, the relationships between the medical variables of age at treatment and dose of craniospinal radiation and cognitive and academic functioning were explored. The sample demonstrated significant cognitive impairment on measures of intellectual functioning and three measures of academic achievement. The academic domains that were most severely impaired were writing skills and practical math problem solving. The majority of participants demonstrated impairment in at least one domain of academic achievement, but the extent of achievement problems was underestimated when applying the traditional discrepancy model, in which an achievement score must be at least 15 points below the intelligence score to represent a learning disability. Age at treatment and dose of craniospinal radiation were not associated with performance on measures of intelligence and academic achievement in the present study; however, the small sample size may have limited the ability to detect significant results among these variables. The results of the present study demonstrate significant impairment in intellectual functioning and academic achievement in ten-year survivors of childhood medulloblastoma.

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