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Visuomotor control in survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with chemotherapy only


Treatment for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which includes CNS prophylaxis, is associated with central and peripheral neurotoxicity. The purpose of the present study was to analyze the effects of chemotherapy on various levels of visuomotor control in survivors of childhood ALL treated without cranial irradiation, and to identify risk factors for possible deficits. Visuomotor function was compared between children after treatment for ALL (n = 34), children after treatment for Wilms tumor, which consists of non-CNS directed chemotherapy (n = 38), and healthy controls (n = 151). Three tasks were administered: a simple visual reaction time task and two tasks measuring visuomotor control with one requiring a higher level of cognitive control than the other. Visuomotor deficits were detected only in the ALL group, with poorer performance restricted to the condition requiring the highest level of control. Significant risk factors for poorer performance were female gender and a short time since end of treatment, and a trend was found for a young age at diagnosis. A high cumulative methotrexate dose was an adverse predictive factor in girls. The results indicate that chemotherapy-induced central neurotoxicity in childhood ALL treatment is associated with higher order visuomotor control deficits. Girls appear to be particularly vulnerable. (JINS, 2005, 11, 554–565.)

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Reprint requests to: Annemieke Buizer, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
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