Impact of Cancer and Its Treatments on Cognitive Function: Advances in Research From the Paris International Cognition and Cancer Task Force Symposium and Update Since 2012

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 Dec;50(6):830-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.06.019. Epub 2015 Sep 5.


Context: Although cognitive impairments have been identified in patients with non-central nervous system cancer, especially breast cancer, the respective roles of cancer and therapies, and the mechanisms involved in cognitive dysfunction remain unclear.

Objectives: To report a state-of-the-art update from the International Cognitive and Cancer Task Force conference held in 2012.

Methods: A report of the meeting and recent new perspectives are presented.

Results: Recent clinical data support that non-central nervous system cancer per se may be involved in cognitive dysfunctions associated with inflammation parameters. The role of chemotherapy on cognitive decline was confirmed in colorectal and testicular cancers. Whereas the impact of hormone therapy remains debatable, some studies support a negative impact of targeted therapies on cognition. Regarding interventions, preliminary results of cognitive rehabilitation showed encouraging results. The methodology of future longitudinal studies has to be optimized by a priori end points, the use of validated test batteries, and the inclusion of control groups. Comorbidities and aging are important factors to be taken into account in future studies. Preclinical studies in animal models highlighted the role of cancer itself on cognition and support the possible benefits of prevention/care during chemotherapy. Progress in neuroimaging will help specify neural processes affected by treatments.

Conclusion: Clinical data and animal models confirmed that chemotherapy induces direct cognitive deficit. The benefits of cognitive rehabilitation are still to be confirmed. Studies evaluating the mechanisms underlying cognitive impairments using advanced neuroimaging techniques integrating the evaluation of genetic factors are ongoing.

Keywords: Cancer; chemotherapy; cognition; elderly; neuroimaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents