06| Pediatric Cancer: The Role of a Neuropsychologist – A Conversation With Dr. Christine Trask (Part 2)

In Part 2 of Pediatric Cancer, we finish our discussion about the cognitive, emotional, and academic effects of pediatric cancer with Christine Trask, Ph.D., ABPP-CN (see the show notes for Part 1 for Christine’s bio).

A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.

Topics Covered

  • Issues pertaining to neuropsychological testing with pediatric cancer patients
    • Is it necessary to postpone testing until after acute cancer treatment?
    • How to account for academic factors when scheduling the testing session
    • The neuropsychological battery in pediatric oncology – which cognitive domains should we focused on?
    • Other environmental considerations (e.g., disinfecting test materials to protect immunocompromised children)
  • Effects of high degrees of childhood neuroplasticity on cognitive outcomes following localized brain tumors
  • The academic effects of cancer symptoms and treatment
  • Neuropsychological recommendations for children with cancer
    • Processing speed and executive functioning recommendations
    • Academic accommodations and collaborating with school systems
    • The utility of psychostimulants and cognitive remediation
  • Neuropsychological report writing for multiple consumers (physician, parent, teacher, etc.)
  • How to deliver neuropsychological feedback to parents and when to consider providing feedback to the child/adolescent
  • Differences in the cognitive effects of cancer treatments in adults compared to children
  • Chemo brain and… “radiation brain?”
  • Longitudinal investigations of survivors of childhood cancer
  • Training in pediatric oncology for students of neuropsychology
  • Biggest challenges to working with this population



Selected References

Cheung, Y. T., & Krull, K. R. (2015). Neurocognitive outcomes in long-term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated on contemporary treatment protocols: A systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews53, 108-120.

Hoag, J., Kupst, M., Briere, M. Mabbott, D. Elkin, T.D., Trask, C., Isenberg, J., Holm, S., Ambler, C., & Strother, D.R. (2014).  Feasibility of conducting long-term follow-up of children and infants treated for CNS tumors on the same cooperative group clinical trial protocol.  The Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings (JOCS). 21, 136-143.

Hunger, S. P., & Mullighan, C. G. (2015). Acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. New England Journal of Medicine373(16), 1541-1552.

Iyer, N. S., Balsamo, L. M., Bracken, M. B., Kadan-Lottick, N. S. (2015).  Chemotherapy-only treatment effects on long-term neurocognitive functioning in childhood ALL survivors: a review and meta-analysis.  Blood.

Kahalley, L. S., Conklin, H. M., Tyc, V. L., Hudson, M. M., Wilson, S. J., Wu, S., … & Hinds, P. S. (2013). Slower processing speed after treatment for pediatric brain tumor and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Psycho‐Oncology22(9), 1979-1986.

Liu, W., Cheung, Y. T., Conklin, H. M., Jacola, L. M., Srivastava, D., Nolan, V. G., … & Pui, C. H. (2018). Evolution of neurocognitive function in long-term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with chemotherapy only. Journal of Cancer Survivorship12(3), 398-406.

Trask, C.L., Greene Welch, J., Manley, P., Jelalian, E., & Schwartz, C.L. (2009).  Parental needs for information related to neurocognitive late effects from pediatric cancer and its treatment.  Pediatric Blood and Cancer, 52, 273-279.

Whitlow PG, Caparas M, Cullen P, Trask, C, Schulte F, Embry L, Nagarajan, R, Johnston DL, Sung, L. (2015).  Strategies to improve success of pediatric cancer cooperative group quality of life studies:  A report from the Children’s Oncology Group. Qual Life Research, 24, 1297-1301.