Neurofibromatosis type-1 (NF1) is a monogenic tumor-predisposition syndrome creating a wide variety of cognitive and behavioral abnormalities, such as decrease in cognitive functioning, deficits in visuospatial processing, attention, and social functioning. NF1 patients are at risk to develop neurofibromas and other tumors, such as optic pathway gliomas and other tumors of the central nervous system. Few studies have investigated the impact of an additional diagnosis of brain tumor on the cognitive outcome of children with NF1, showing unclear results and without controlling by the effect of surgery, radio- or chemotherapy. In the present mono-institutional study, we compared the behavioral and cognitive outcomes of 26 children with neurofibromatosis alone (NF1) with two age-matched groups of 26 children diagnosed with NF1 and untreated optic pathway glioma (NF1 + OPG) and 19 children with NF1 and untreated other central nervous system tumors (NF1 + CT). NF1 + CT and NF1 + OPG showed significantly impaired cognitive abilities compared to NF1 group, with weaknesses in visuo-spatial abilities, visual scanning and verbal working memory, while general verbal abilities are preserved. Moreover, NF1 + OPG patients present more frequent internalizing problems and increased oppositional-deviant behaviors. These results suggest that the co-diagnosis of a brain tumor in NF1 children may partially worsen the cognitive and emotional outcome.
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