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Study: Cognitive deficits continue long term in cancer survivors in domains important for social and executive functioning

elderly_senior_memory_loss_confusionCog­ni­tive Deficits Con­tin­ue Long Term in Can­cer Sur­vivors (Med­scape):

Although can­cer patients fre­quent­ly expe­ri­ence short-term cog­ni­tive deficits, lit­tle is known about how long these deficits last or whether they wors­en over time. Now, data from a large nation­al sam­ple sug­gest that cog­ni­tive deficits may per­sist long term.

When com­pared with matched indi­vid­u­als who were with­out can­cer, long-term can­cer sur­vivors per­formed worse on a test of pro­cess­ing speed, atten­tion, and learn­ing and work­ing mem­o­ry involv­ing exec­u­tive func­tions domains. Can­cer sur­vivors also more fre­quent­ly prob­lems with mem­o­ry and con­fu­sion, even after adjust­ing for con­founders, such as age and edu­ca­tion lev­el.

These effects appeared to be greater in long-term vs short-term can­cer sur­vivors, but age seemed to be a fac­tor. Can­cer sur­vivors aged 60 to 75 years had worse per­for­mance on the cog­ni­tion test as com­pared with those old­er than 75 years…

Although it is too soon to under­stand how this infor­ma­tion will affect cur­rent ther­a­peu­tic approach­es to old­er patients, Dr Markham said: “Clear­ly, we should be mind­ful of the impact of our treat­ments on cog­ni­tion in patients of all ages, includ­ing the advanced age pop­u­la­tion.”

Study: Cog­ni­tive func­tion in can­cer sur­vivors: Analy­sis of the 1999–2002 Nation­al Health and Nutri­tion Exam­i­na­tion Sur­vey (abstract pre­sent­ed at the 2016 Can­cer Sur­vivor­ship Sym­po­sium)

  • Back­ground: Can­cer and its treat­ment may affect cog­ni­tive func­tion in up to 35% of sur­vivors months after treat­ment. While short-term treat­ment-relat­ed cog­ni­tive changes are well rec­og­nized, only lim­it­ed research is avail­able in old­er, long-term sur­vivors of can­cer.
  • Con­clu­sions: This is the only study to exam­ine domain spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive deficits in a large, nation­al­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive, old­er pop­u­la­tion of long-term can­cer sur­vivors and the first to report deficits in pro­cess­ing speed, atten­tion, and learn­ing and work­ing mem­o­ry domains. These domains are thought to be impor­tant for social and exec­u­tive func­tion­ing and qual­i­ty of life. Char­ac­ter­iz­ing affect­ed domains and sub­pop­u­la­tions will help to devel­op and test effec­tive inter­ven­tions and may influ­ence treat­ment prac­tices in old­er can­cer patients.

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