Survivors of childhood bone cancer are at risk for learning, memory problems

Memphis, Tennessee, December 23, 2015

Kevin Krull

Kevin Krull, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control

Adult survivors of the bone cancer osteosarcoma have another reason to stay heart healthy. Research from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study (St. Jude LIFE) found they have a higher risk for learning and memory problems. The issues also affect skills like reading, attention and processing speed. The problems may reduce the odds of earning a college degree or holding a full-time job. 

The risk is related in part to chronic heart and other health conditions.

The study included 80 St. Jude osteosarcoma survivors and 39 community volunteers. The average survivor was almost 39 years old and nearly 25 years from diagnosis. The survivors take part in St. Jude LIFE. This ongoing study brings them back to campus for health screenings and other tests. St. Jude LIFE aims to help doctors understand the long-term effects of childhood cancer and its treatment.

“Treatment advances have helped push long-term survival for pediatric osteosarcoma patients from 20 percent in the 1970s to about 70 percent today,” said Kevin Krull, PhD, of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control. “But until now, little was known about cognitive functioning of adult survivors or their quality of life.

“The findings highlight the need for early and continued monitoring of survivors, particularly their heart health and neurocognitive functioning,” he said.

The study appeared in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Full citation:
Edelmann MN, Daryani VM, Bishop MW, Liu W, Brinkman TM, Stewart CF, Mulrooney DA, Kimberg C, Ness KK, Cheung YT, Srivastava DK, Robison LL, Hudson MM, Krull KR. Neurocognitive and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Adult Survivors of Childhood OsteosarcomaJAMA Oncol Nov 19, 2015. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.4398.

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