(HealthDay News) — Adult survivors of childhood cancer have an elevated risk for late-onset memory impairment, according to a study published online May 31 in JAMA Network Open.
Nicholas S. Phillips, M.D., Ph.D., from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and colleagues assessed whether aging adult childhood cancer survivors report more new-onset neurocognitive impairments compared to their siblings (232 siblings). The analysis included 2,375 survivors participating in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (diagnosis from 1970 through 1986) with new-onset neurocognitive impairment assessed between baseline (23.4 years after diagnosis) and follow-up (35.0 years after diagnosis).
The researchers found that compared with siblings, a higher proportion of survivors with no impairment in memory at baseline had new-onset memory impairment at follow-up (siblings: 7.8 percent; acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL] survivors treated with chemotherapy only: 14.0 percent; ALL survivors treated with cranial radiation [CRT]: 25.8 percent; central nervous system [CNS] tumor survivors: 34.7 percent; Hodgkin lymphoma survivors: 16.6 percent). There was an association observed between new-onset memory impairment and CRT in CNS tumor survivors (RR, 1.97) and alkylator chemotherapy ≥8,000 mg/m² in ALL survivors treated without CRT (RR, 2.80).
“These findings suggest that adult survivors of childhood cancer are at elevated risk for new-onset neurocognitive impairments as they age and that such new-onset impairment may be an indicator of future neurocognitive decline and possibly dementia,” the authors write.