New research shows lower educational outcomes for survivors of childhood cancer

April 1, 2009,

New research funded by the Canadian Cancer Society has discovered poor educational achievement and learning difficulties for some childhood cancer survivors, especially those diagnosed with brain tumours. This first-of-its-kind study, published in the journal Cancer, raises critical questions about the long term outlook for children with cancer.

"These are very significant findings," says Barbara Kaminsky, CEO Canadian Society BC and Yukon. "It is not good enough to just improve survival rates for these children. We need to ensure that as many patients as possible become more than survivors—rather we hope to have post-cancer thrivers."

Advances in treatment have dramatically increased the survival rate to over 80 per cent for children diagnosed with cancer. This has resulted in a growing number of children in today's education system who are . Unfortunately, many childhood cancer survivors suffer what are known as "adverse late effects" - problems that may be related to the disease itself or the aggressive treatments they have been through.

With funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, this study is one of a series of papers expected from Mary McBride, senior scientist at the BC Cancer Agency and primary investigator for the Childhood Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors Research program (CAYACS).

Parents and teachers have reported educational difficulties among survivors. Cancer survivors achieve lower levels of education, increased utilization of special education services and are more likely to repeat a grade level.

There is considerable evidence of adverse late effects including lower intelligence testing scores that may impact educational performance. A number of factors that increase the risk of poorer educational outcomes include diagnosis or treatment at a younger age, specific therapies and certain types of treatment. Girls in particular, as well as children who received , in particular, cranial radiation, seem to have an increased risk.

The study looked at almost 800 young BC survivors who had a primary diagnosis of cancer at 15 years of age or younger and who had survived for more than five years after since diagnosis.

This study is believed to be the first population-based research to use a comprehensive set of standardized measures to examine educational late effects of survivors of all childhood cancers. The findings have important implications for survivors, their parents, clinicians and educators who need to be aware of potential educational difficulties.

Sharing information between these groups is fundamental in addressing the transition to school. Regular monitoring of progress within the school system is essential to proving appropriate management of this group.

Source: Canadian Cancer Society

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.