Accounting for approximately 20% of all childhood cancer diagnoses, brain tumor is the second most common type of pediatric malignancy. With increasing survival rates, morbidities associated with treatment, known as late effects, have received increasing attention. Deficits in neurocognitive abilities and social functioning are well-documented in pediatric brain tumor survivors (PBTS), and have been recurrently attributed to intensity of central nervous system-directed treatment.
One study found strong correlations between neurocognitive functioning (e.g. executive function and reaction time variability, a measure of cognitive intra-individual variability (IIV)), and a parent report measure of social skills; however, evidence is still limited regarding this relationship. The present study examined neurocognitive performance in relation to a peer report measure of social isolation, with an analysis which compared PBTS who received cranial radiation therapy (CRT) to those who received generally less intense treatment (e.g. chemotherapy and/or surgical resection alone). We hypothesized that PBTS treated with CRT would exhibit worse overall cognitive performance and greater cognitive IIV, compared to those who did not receive CRT. We also anticipated that lower overall cognitive performance, and greater cognitive IIV, would be associated with increased social isolation.
Our results expressed that PBTS treated with CRT had lower scores of overall cognitive performance and increased social isolation, compared to those who did not receive CRT. Group differences were not found regarding cognitive IIV. Mediation analysis determined group differences in social isolation were at least partially accounted for by overall cognitive performance, but not cognitive IIV.
Dr. Kathryn Vannatta