The overall survival of childhood leukaemia has increased dramatically over recent decades. With the increasing number of survivors, chemotherapy protocols are designed not only to improve cure rates but also to minimise long-term sequelae. Central-nervous-system-directed therapy given as intrathecal chemotherapy and/or cranial irradiation plays a crucial part in acute leukaemia treatment but can also result in adverse effects on the developing brain. The elimination of cranial irradiation from current treatment protocols has improved the neurocognitive outcome without compromising survival rates. Although neurodevelopmental long-term sequelae after chemotherapy-only central-nervous-system-directed therapies may be more subtle, survivors of childhood leukaemia will continue to require methodical follow-up and appropriate rehabilitation.
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Competing interests None
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.