Intermittent high dose corticosteroid treatment in childhood cancer: Behavioral and emotional consequences

James C O Harris, Cynthia A. Carel, Leon A. Rosenberg, Paramjit Joshi, Brigid G. Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Effects of prednisone (60 mg/m2) on behavior, mood, and sleep were investigated in 16 outpatient pediatric oncology patients in remission and on a maintenance drug treatment protocol calling for intermittent oral pulses of prednisone. Rating scales for sleep disturbance, depression, and an inventory of common symptons associated with corticosteroids were used to study patients as their own controls during alternating phases of maintenance drug alone and maintenance drug plus prednisone. There were statistically significant differences in number of symptoms on and off prednisone including (p <0.001) and excluding (p <0.01) physical symptoms. All children had increases in appetite and 63% reported changes in facial appearance. Increased irritability, argumentativeness, tiredness, “talks too much” and cries for no reason were common complaints. There was a trend toward more symptoms in younger children. Night wakening was increased while on prednisone (p <0.05) and activity and energy levels were decreased (p <0.02). Further studies of behavioral toxicity in children receiving prednisone (60 mg/m2) on oncology protocols is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-124
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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