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Frequency and characterization of cognitive impairments in patients diagnosed with paediatric central nervous system tumours: a systematic review (01a Articolo in rivista)

Sciancalepore Francesco, Fabozzi Francesco, Albino Giulia, DEL BALDO Giada, DI RUSCIO Valentina, Laus Beatrice, Menegatti Danilo, Premuselli Roberto, Elena Secco Domitilla, Eugenio Tozzi Alberto, Lacorte Eleonora, Vanacore Nicola, Carai Andrea, Mastronuzzi Angela

Background: This systematic review has been conducted with the aim of characterizing cognitive deficits and analyzing their frequency in survivors of paediatric Central Nervous System tumours. Materials and methods: All literature published up to January 2023 was retrieved searching the databases "PubMed", "Cochrane", "APA PsycInfo" and "CINAHL". The following set of pre-defined inclusion criteria were then individually applied to the selected articles in their full-text version: i) Retrospective/prospective longitudinal observational studies including only patients diagnosed with primary cerebral tumours at ≤ 21 years (range 0-21); ii) Studies including patients evaluated for neuro-cognitive and neuro-psychological deficits from their diagnosis and/or from anti-tumoral therapies; iii) Studies reporting standardized tests evaluating patients' neuro-cognitive and neuro-psychological performances; iv) Patients with follow-ups ≥ 2 years from the end of their anti-tumoral therapies; v) Studies reporting frequencies of cognitive deficits. Results: 39 studies were included in the analysis. Of these, 35 assessed intellectual functioning, 30 examined memory domains, 24 assessed executive functions, 22 assessed attention, 16 examined visuo-spatial skills, and 15 explored language. A total of 34 studies assessed more than one cognitive function, only 5 studies limited their analysis on a single cognitive domain. Attention impairments were the most recurrent in this population, with a mean frequency of 52.3% after a median period post-treatment of 11.5 years. The other cognitive functions investigated in the studies showed a similar frequency of impairments, with executive functions, language, visuospatial skills and memory deficits occurring in about 40% of survivors after a similar post-treatment period. Longitudinal studies included in the systematic review showed a frequent decline over time of intellectual functioning. Conclusions: Survivors of paediatric Central Nervous System tumours experience cognitive sequelae characterized by significant impairments in the attention domain (52.3%), but also in the other cognitive functions. Future studies in this research field need to implement more cognitive interventions and effective, but less neurotoxic, tumour therapies to preserve or improve neurocognitive functioning and quality of life of this population.
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