Improving Quality of Life in Medulloblastoma Survivors

With increasing survival rates for pediatric cancer patients, efforts to improve long-term quality of life have become a focus in research. Evidence-based research has demonstrated that social functioning contributes to health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and pediatric brain tumor survivors tend to have the poorest HRQOL among pediatric cancer survivors.

However, specific contributing factors underlying the social difficulties experienced by brain tumor survivors have not been sufficiently deconstructed in a manner that advances clinical guidance for intervention. Thus, identifying factors that could be targeted to improve aspects of functioning related to HRQOL in pediatric brain tumor survivors has become a high priority.

Along with colleagues from Children’s Health and MD Anderson Cancer Center, our researcher from Cook Children’s Neurosciences Center (Beth Colaluca, Ph.D.) recently published a study evaluating the relationship between cognitive variables and social functioning in survivors of a specific type of brain tumor involving the cerebellum, medulloblastoma.

Consistent with existing literature in broader samples of pediatric cancer survivors, the study affirmed attention deficits as an underlying contributor to social deficits in pediatric medulloblastoma survivors and identified female gender as a potential risk factor for attention deficits. A novel and compelling finding in the present study is that attention was found to be a more significant contributor to social outcomes than overall level of cognitive ability. Another unique contribution of this study was inclusion of self-report ratings, which yielded the finding that parent report indicated a greater degree of concern regarding both attention and social functioning as compared with self-reported ratings. These results have significant implications for providers working with medulloblastoma survivors as patients may lack awareness of difficulties and therefore intervention will likely involve the family and other components of the survivor’s social network.

Neuropsychologists at Cook Children’s evaluate the impact of a neurological condition upon cognition and behavior. By determining a patient’s individual strengths and weaknesses, neuropsychologists assist parents, members of the patient’s treatment team, and teachers by providing strategies that allow them to achieve their full potential. Our three neuropsychologists participate in several of the Neurosciences clinics including brain tumor/neuro-oncology, stroke, multiple sclerosis/demyelinating disorders and neurofibromatosis.

Neuropsychology Program

Contributing author:

Beth Colaluca, Ph.D.

Beth Colaluca, Ph.D.

Cook Children’s Neuropsychology team:

Great outcomes begin with great input. Having a medical system where every department, doctor, and care team member works together means that your child can have quick access to testing, diagnosis and treatment, and that means better outcomes now and in the future.

Contact the Jane and John Justin Neuroscience Center at Cook Children’s with your questions at 682-885-2500.

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