TBI Reduces Cognitive Function in Youth


Total-body irradiation (TBI) slows cognitive outcomes in pediatric stem cell transplant (SCT) survivors. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Some types of cancer require a SCT to provide optimal outcomes for patients. A SCT requires either high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill as many cancer cells as possible within the body. Unfortunately, these high doses also kill many health cells and are associated with severe side effects.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate cognitive functioning among young patients with cancer who received TBI prior to SCT. The study included 183 patients who underwent a SCT; approximately half received TBI.

Prior to therapy, there were no differences in intelligence quotient (IQ) prior to therapy.
Following treatment, younger patients had greater evidence of cognitive decline in terms of IQ scores.
The younger patients who did not received TBI, however, recovered from their cognitive decline starting a year after their treatment.
Patients who were treated with TBI did not recover from cognitive decline following their treatment.
The researchers stated that “ Our findings clarify the relationship between TBI and age on cognitive outcomes in pediatric SCT survivors. Young patients who receive TBI may benefit from early intervention efforts to minimize cognitive losses during the first year after SCT and to maximize potential recovery.”

Reference: Willard V, Leung W, Huang Q, et al. Cognitive outcome after pediatric stem-cell transplantation: impact of age and total-body irradiation. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Published online before print November 10, 2014, doi:10.1200/JCO.2014.56.2223.