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ADHD Drug Helps Childhood Cancer Survivors in Long Term

Last Updated: September 14, 2010.

Methylphenidate, the stimulant drug most commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, appears to ameliorate behavior and attention problems in childhood cancer survivors over the course of a year, according to research published online Sept. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Methylphenidate (MPH), the stimulant drug most commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, appears to ameliorate behavior and attention problems in childhood cancer survivors over the course of a year, according to research published online Sept. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Heather M. Conklin, Ph.D., of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues assessed 35 survivors of childhood brain tumors and 33 survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia taking MPH against 31 survivors of childhood brain tumors and 23 survivors of childhood leukemia not taking MPH over 12 months.

In those taking MPH, the researchers found significant improvements in sustained attention; in parent-, teacher-, and self-reported attention ratings; and in parental ratings of social skills or behavior problems. The control group, however, showed improvement only in parental ratings of social skills and attention. Neither group appeared to improve academically.

"Attention and behavioral benefits of MPH for childhood cancer survivors are maintained across settings over the course of a year. Although academic gains were not identified, MPH may offer benefits in academic areas not assessed," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Shire Pharmaceuticals.

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