Neurocognitive function and health-related quality of life in a nationwide cohort of long-term childhood brain tumor survivors

Anne Sophie Lind Helligsø*, Louise Tram Henriksen, Line Kenborg, Yasmin Alexandra Lassen, Lisa Maria Wu, Jeanette Falck Winther, Henrik Hasle, Ali Amidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Childhood brain tumor survivors are at high risk of late effects, especially neurocognitive impairment. Limited data are available examining neurocognitive function and associations with quality of life (QoL) in childhood brain tumor survivors. Our aim was to examine neurocognitive function in childhood brain tumor survivors, and associations with QoL and symptom burden.

METHODS: Five-year survivors of brain tumors over the age of 15 were identified in the Danish Childhood Cancer Registry ( n = 423). Eligible and consenting participants completed neuropsychological tests and questionnaires assessing QoL, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Survivors treated with radiation ( n = 59) were statistically compared with survivors not treated with radiation ( n = 102).

RESULTS: In total, 170 survivors participated (40.2% participation rate). Sixty-six percent of the survivors who completed neurocognitive tests ( n = 161) exhibited overall neurocognitive impairment. Survivors treated with radiation, especially whole-brain irradiation, exhibited poorer neurocognitive outcomes than survivors not treated with radiation. Neurocognitive outcomes for survivors treated with surgery were below normative expectations. Furthermore, a number of survivors experienced significant fatigue (40%), anxiety (23%), insomnia (13%), and/or depression (6%). Survivors treated with radiation reported lower quality of life (QoL) and higher symptom burden scores than survivors not treated with radiation; particularly in physical functioning, and social functioning with symptoms of fatigue. Neurocognitive impairment was not associated with QoL or symptom burden.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, a majority of the childhood brain tumor survivors experienced neurocognitive impairment, reduced QoL, and high symptom burden. Although not associated with each other, it is apparent that childhood brain tumor survivors experience not only neurocognitive dysfunction but may also experience QoL impairments and significant symptom burden.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuro-oncology practice
Pages (from-to) 140–151
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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