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The Current State of Radiotherapy for Pediatric Brain Tumors: An Overview of Post-Radiotherapy Neurocognitive Decline and Outcomes.


Tumors of the central nervous system are the most common solid malignancies diagnosed in children. While common, they are also found to have some of the lowest survival rates of all malignancies. Treatment of childhood brain tumors often consists of operative gross total resection with adjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The current body of literature is largely inconclusive regarding the overall benefit of adjuvant chemo- or radiotherapy. However, it is known that both are associated with conditions that lower the quality of life in children who undergo those treatments. Chemotherapy is often associated with nausea, emesis, significant fatigue, immunosuppression, and alopecia. While radiotherapy can be effective for achieving local control, it is associated with late effects such as endocrine dysfunction, secondary malignancy, and neurocognitive decline. Advancements in radiotherapy grant both an increase in lifetime survival and an increased lifetime for survivors to contend with these late effects. In this review, the authors examined all the published literature, analyzing the results of clinical trials, case series, and technical notes on patients undergoing radiotherapy for the treatment of tumors of the central nervous system with a focus on neurocognitive decline and survival outcomes.

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