BACKGROUND. The relatively high survival rate of patients with low-grade astrocytoma necessitates increasing attention to physical and psychosocial outcomes. The objective of the current study was to investigate functional outcomes among children who were treated for low-grade or pilocytic astrocytoma in different areas of the brain. METHODS. Functional outcomes were evaluated in the following domains: impairments, disabilities, handicaps, and quality of life (QOL). In a consecutive series, 38 children were included. Follow-up ranged from 3 years and 7 months to 11 years and 4 months after diagnosis. RESULTS. Approximately 61% of children had impairments and 10% had a severe disability. Handicaps were found in the domains of relationships, school, and behavior. Children who were treated for supratentorial tumors required significantly more special education, and children who were treated for infratentorial tumors had significantly more behavioral and social problems. QOL was decreased significantly in all domains except emotions. Children who had a diagnosis in adolescence reported a lower QOL in social functioning compared with younger children. Data analysis revealed that some deficits suddenly became apparent years after diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS. At long-term follow-up, children who had low-grade or pilocytic astrocytomas were found to have poor functional outcomes, depending on tumor site, age, and recurrence. Children without deficits may develop severe cognitive, social, and behavioral deficits years after diagnosis, because of the phenomenon of "growing into deficit." Therefore, the authors suggest a long-term follow-up of children who are treated for low-grade or pilocytic astrocytomas at a young age to detect and subsequently offer support focused on the medical and cognitive impairments as well as on the behavioral and social consequences of their disease.

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Department of Neurology

Aarsen, F.K, Paquier, P.F, Reddingius, R.E, Streng, I.C, Arts, W.F.M, Evera-Preesman, M, & Catsman-Berrevoets, C.E. (2006). Functional outcome after low-grade astrocytoma treatment in childhood. Cancer, 106(2), 396–402. doi:10.1002/cncr.21612