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Childhood cancer survivors show sustained benefit from common ADHD medication
Date:9/13/2010

A medicine widely used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also provides long-term relief from the attention and behavior changes that affect many childhood cancer survivors, according to a multicenter trial led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators.

Researchers reported that one year after starting the drug methylphenidate, young cancer survivors scored better on tests of sustained attention and other measures of attention, social skills and behavior than did a similar group of unmedicated survivors. While taking methylphenidate, scores on the attention and behavior measures of many survivors returned to normal ranges. Methylphenidate is marketed under several brand names, including Ritalin and Concerta. The study is the first to document that some survivors enjoy long-term benefits from its use.

Coupled with results from earlier medication side effects studies, the study's authors said these findings offer hope and reassurance for survivors, their families and others looking for ways to ease such late effects of cancer and its treatment. The work appears in the September 13 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"We found that methylphenidate improves both attention and social skills and that these benefits are maintained," said Heather Conklin, Ph.D., assistant member of the St. Jude Department of Psychology and the study's first author. "Although the drug did not lead to a significant gain in measured academic skills, many parents reported their children's grades improved because the children did a better job of managing tasks like planning ahead for projects or remembering to complete and turn in assignments."

The results come as the growing ranks of childhood cancer survivors have the pediatric cancer community searching for better ways to ease or even prevent treatment late effects.

Conklin said the findings also underscore the need for non-pharmacolog
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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