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Keywords:

  • late effects;
  • educational achievement;
  • special education;
  • childhood cancer;
  • survivors

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Increased survival of patients with childhood cancer has resulted in a growing population of survivors within the education system, many of whom may experience educational difficulties. The current study provides a comprehensive assessment of survivors' educational achievements.

METHODS:

Seven hundred eighty-two childhood cancer survivors from the British Columbia (BC) Cancer Registry who attended BC schools from 1995 to 2004, were compared with a randomly selected comparison group of 8386 BC school children. Grade repetition, standard Foundation Skills Assessments (FSA), graduation-year examinations, and special education designations were compared, and factors that affected survivors' educational outcomes were identified.

RESULTS:

Survivors of central nervous system tumors had statistically significant FSA deficits in numeracy and reading (adjusted odds ratios from 0.2 to 0.5 in various grades); leukemia survivors also had lower FSA scores, although most differences were not statistically significant. Other survivors demonstrated no significant differences in FSA scores. Survivors were significantly more likely than controls to receive special education (32.5% vs 14.1%). Females and those who had received radiation treatment (particularly cranial radiation) were at increased risk for poor educational outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS:

The current results have implications for the management of survivors in the education system to maximize their educational experience. Cancer 2009. © 2009 American Cancer Society.