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Feasibility of neuropsychological assessment in leukaemia patients shortly after diagnosis: directions for future prospective research
  1. N C Jansen1,
  2. A Kingma1,
  3. P Tellegen2,
  4. R I van Dommelen1,
  5. A Bouma2,
  6. A Veerman3,
  7. W A Kamps1
  1. 1Departments of Paediatric Haematology Oncology, Groningen University Hospital, Groningen, Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
  3. 3Dutch Childhood Leukemia Study Group, The Hague, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
    MsN C Jansen
    Beatrix Children’s Hospital Groningen, Department of Paediatric Haematology Oncology, PO Box 30 001, 9700 RB Groningen, Netherlands;


Aims: To study neuropsychological functioning of newly diagnosed children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) within two weeks after diagnosis in order to determine the feasibility of a sibling controlled prospective study design.

Methods: Fifty consecutive patients (median age at testing 6.6 years, range 4–12) were included in a prospective, longitudinal, nationwide study. Treatment would include intrathecal and systemic chemotherapy according to the DCLSG ALL-9 protocol. Children were evaluated with an extensive neuropsychological battery including measures of intelligence, memory, attention, language, visual-constructive function, and fine-motor abilities within two weeks after start of the chemotherapy. The control group consisted of 29 healthy siblings (median age at testing 8.2 years, range 4–12), who were tested <4 weeks after the patients’ assessment.

Results: Mean scores on Wechsler Intelligence Scales did not differ significantly between patients and siblings; mean IQ scores for both the patients and the controls were high average. To examine specific neuropsychological functions, norm scores based on the exact age were acquired by fitting procedures, but no significant differences were found.

Conclusions: Neuropsychological assessment of patients during early hospitalisation is feasible. The results indicate no adverse effect of illness and psychological factors on IQ and neuropsychological functioning of patients with recently diagnosed ALL. The prospective design of this study of cognitive late effects of chemotherapy will allow discrimination between adverse sequelae of disease and treatment.

  • ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • CI, cranial irradiation
  • DCLSG, Dutch Childhood Leukaemia Study Group
  • SES, socioeconomic status
  • acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • chemotherapy
  • neuropsychology
  • late-effects
  • prospective study
  • adverse effects
  • cognition

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