In previous clinical trials of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), dexamethasone resulted in higher event-free survival rates than prednisone, presumably due to greater central nervous system penetration. Dexamethasone's association with long-term neurocognitive toxicity is unknown. In this multisite study, we measured neurocognitive functioning in 92 children with standard-risk ALL, 1 to 9.99 years at diagnosis, at a mean of 9.8 years after randomization to prednisone (n = 41) or dexamethasone (n = 51) on Children's Cancer Group (CCG) 1922. No significant overall differences in mean neurocognitive and academic performance scores were found between the prednisone and dexamethasone groups after adjusting for age, sex, and time since diagnosis. The exception was that patients receiving dexamethasone scored one-third of a standard deviation worse on word reading (98.8 ± 1.7 vs 104.9 ± 1.8; P = .02). There were no group differences in the distribution of test scores or the parents' report of neurologic complications, psychotropic drug use, and special education. Further analyses suggested for the dexamethasone group, older age of diagnosis was associated with worse neurocognitive functioning; for the prednisone group, younger age at diagnosis was associated with worse functioning. In conclusion, our study did not demonstrate any meaningful differences in long-term cognitive functioning of childhood ALL patients based on corticosteroid randomization. This study is registered with http://www. clinicaltrials.gov under NCT00085176.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology