Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Tricia Z. King

Second Advisor

Christopher C. Henrich

Abstract

Prior research suggests aggressive cancer treatments contribute to cognitive impairments in children diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors. The literature also suggests that younger age at diagnosis (AAD) and treatment may result in disrupted cognitive trajectories due to limited brain plasticity. In line with this research, we hypothesized an interaction between radiation therapy (RT) and young AAD of brain tumors, where young AAD and RT results in lower standard scores on the WRAT-R Reading Comprehension Subtest. Analyses included archival data; the sample consists of 134 children diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors with multiple assessments resulting in 487 cases for analysis. Participants were diagnosed with mixed tumor types and locations. A two level multilevel model was used to analyze reading trajectories while taking into account AAD, time since diagnosis, socioeconomic status (SES), and RT. Results detected a positive interaction between AAD and RT (γ =2.08, p=.02). For participants with RT, younger AAD was associated with lower reading scores, whereas AAD had no effect for participants without RT. Results also detected a negative interaction between radiation and time (γ =-2.29, p=.00) indicating that children treated with RT have reading scores that decrease over time. These data suggested that children diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors treated with RT are at higher risk of reading impairment as reflected in their reading scores.

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