Child Wellness: Cognitive problems following cancer treatment
For kids who are diagnosed with cancer, there is some good news: more children are surviving. But that leaves us with another problem. Marcie Fraser explains.
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"It's impressive how far we have come with treatment of pediatric cancer. We are now faced with the challenge of managing these kids from a cognitive, social and emotional perspective after they a have gone through this intensive treatment," said Dr. Marie McCabe, a pediatric neuropsychchlogist.
While the treatment of cancer, whether it's chemotherapy or radiation, saves lives, it can also negatively impact cognition. Pediatric neuropsychchlogist Dr. Marie McCabe specializes in helping families manage the cognitive, social and emotional functioning of a child who has been treated for cancer. For example, radiation can cause the pace of thinking to slow down.
"Their pace of work is slower. It takes them longer to go through things and not as efficient, that is a primary area of deficit that we see. We also see problems in working memory, the amount of information you are able to take in, to manipulate in your mind and put back out there say or put out in writing,” said Dr. McCabe.
More complications come when a child has a tumor. In addition to the treatment, the radiation and chemotherapy, where the tumor is located can make a difference.
"Different parts of brain are responsible for cognitive functions so if you have tumor in the left frontal part of the lobe, it's going to probably have different implications when compared if it was in right posterior brain region," said Dr. McCabe.
Dr. McCabe gives parents tools to work with a child who is showing signs of slowing down. Missing school for treatments can challenge a child academically.
"Allowing for extended time both in formal assignments and in the context of home and school to finish what they are saying to get their work done. Changing the amount of work they do or modifying it the way they do it and providing other accommodations," said Dr. McCabe.