ADHD medication helps young cancer survivor have better quality of life

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A study was conducted by the Paediatric Neuro Oncology team at the Great North Children’s Hospital.

A case study has revealed that ADHD medication can improve the quality of life for child survivors of brain tumours.

10-year-old Grace Frazer from Newcastle was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma when she was only one year old, after having difficulty with her balance.

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The tumour was successfully removed, and after six months of chemotherapy, Grace was given the all-clear in July 2015. Sadly, the tumour returned in the November of the same year, which resulted in further surgery for young Grace, as well as six weeks of cranial and spinal radiotherapy and a further six months of chemotherapy.

She began taking Methylphenidate, an ADHD medication, in early 2018, which was recommended to help speed up Grace’s processing skills to be able to cope better in school.

Grace’s mother said: “Grace has now been cancer-free for years, but the treatment left her with numerous psychological problems. Both at home and at school she was proving quite hard work; unable to sit and listen, too distracted by her surroundings.

“However, her ability to focus and process information is much better now and she is able to sit with her peers in school and learn. Grace still has a few problems but she is happy, healthy and full of life.”

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Speaking about Methylphenidate, Grace’s dad added: “This has helped Grace in so many ways she is now thriving in her school and able to learn and grow with her friends. It took a while to get to the steady dose that she is on now, but we are all so pleased with the impact it’s had.”

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Recent studies conducted by the Paediatric Neuro Oncology team at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle have shown that Methylphenidate which is typically used to control ADHD symptoms, improves cognitive function and health-related quality of life in survivors of childhood brain tumours.

Positive results showed aspects of attention, response times, academic function, emotional function, and social function, as well as a reduction in fatigue and increased happiness.

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The studies were partially funded by the children’s brain tumour charity Tom’s Trust.

Dr Sarah Verity, lead author, said: “Due to improved medical treatments in children with brain tumours, more and more young people are surviving, with an overall survival rate of approximately 85%.

“With 62% of these children being left with lifelong disabilities, it’s important that these children are given the best possible opportunity to fulfil their potential and have a good quality of life.

Grace Frazer with her parents.Grace Frazer with her parents.
Grace Frazer with her parents.

She continued: “We are very interested in the potential of this drug in survivorship, and we can see that it has had a positive impact on these children’s lives, with minimal side effects. We would like to see further funded research help us answer some of the outstanding questions we have about the use of this drug.”

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