A report published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology highlights the need for early intervention resources for child-survivors of retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina that affects mostly toddlers and young children. The St. Jude study followed 78 survivors over five years to track their early learning and life skills.
Although the survival rate of retinoblastoma is extremely high (96%) thanks to chemotherapy, surgery, and other treatments, children who undergo these treatments face side effects that may affect their long-term growth and development. To investigate this, researchers tested children’s early learning and life skills following diagnoses and then again five years later.
They found that while early learning and life skills declined from diagnosis to age 5, by age 10 almost all the children scored within the average range for their age levels, including children who had one eye removed.
"The good news is that as a group the children did improve over time, but not everyone is recovering at the same rate," said Victoria Willard, PhD, of St. Jude Psychology. "The findings show we all need to be aware of factors that put children at risk for difficulties later. It highlights that all young children with retinoblastoma may benefit from early intervention to promote growth and development."