Returning to School After Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment
My 7 year old is being treated for a craniopharyngioma with surgery and radiation. What should I expect when he is ready to go back to school? Will he be able to rejoin his classmates or have to stay back a year?
Carol Armstrong, PhD, Director of Neuropsychology Lab, Neuro-Oncology Program at CHOP, responds:
It would probably be helpful if your child had a neuropsychological evaluation before returning to school. A little thought can go into when the evaluation occurs, since a person's cognitive abilities continue to recover for two years after surgery, and there is a decline and then rebound in memory for children over two years after radiation, and your child might continue to have improvement in cognition after the neuropsy evaluation. On the other hand, there can be decline in cognitive function during the year after surgery if brain tissue dies back, called encephalomalacia - this is unpredictable and doesn't occur in everyone.