Long-term cognitive outcome, brain computed tomography scan, and magnetic resonance imaging in children cured for acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Laura Iuvone, Paolo Mariotti, Cesare Colosimo, Francesco Guzzetta, Antonio Ruggiero, Riccardo Riccardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BACKGROUND. Prevention of meningeal recurrence achieved by intrathecal methotrexate (MTX) and systemic chemotherapy is part of standard acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treatment. Cranial irradiation has been a routine part of past protocol treatment but is currently reserved only for select subsets of patients. Central nervous system (CNS) prophylaxis may cause brain abnormalities such as intracerebral calcifications, cerebral atrophy, and white matter alterations. In addition, long-term neuropsychologic sequelae following CNS prophylaxis have been investigated marginally in children cured for ALL. METHODS. To explore possible correlations between neuroimaging findings and neuropsychologic outcome, we used detailed cognitive tests to evaluate 21 children with ALL who received cranial irradiation (range, 18-24 Gy) plus intrathecal MTX as CNS prophylaxis. All children were followed prospectively once a year by cerebral computed tomographic scan and magnetic resonance imaging. All patients had continuous complete disease remission for at least 4 years and cognitive tests were performed after neuroradiologic examinations. RESULTS. White matter abnormalities were associated with poor performance only in a task exploring visual motor integration in about 50% of patients. Intracerebral calcifications correlate with the number of intrathecal MTX doses and with low scores in total intellectual quotient, performance intellectual quotient, and significant impairment in attention and visual motor integration tests. Girls are more vulnerable to the effects of CNS prophylaxis, whereas age at treatment and radiotherapy dose are not relevant to neuropsychologic outcome. CONCLUSIONS. Our results indicate the need for careful follow-up of children's cognitive abilities because global intellectual measures often fail to detect specific disorders that may cause learning difficulties. Moreover, as the clinical implications of neuroimaging findings are often limited, periodic extensive evaluation by specific neurocognitive tests of mental abilities is recommended to detect early signs of cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2562-2570
Number of pages9
JournalCancer
Volume95
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2002

Keywords

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Brain CT scan
  • Brain MRI
  • Children
  • Cognitive outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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