Chemotherapy-related Cognitive Impairment in Older Patients With Cancer

J Geriatr Oncol. 2016 Jul;7(4):270-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2016.04.008. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) can occur during or after chemotherapy and represents a concern for many patients with cancer. Among older patients with cancer, in whom there is little clinical trial evidence examining side effects like CRCI, many unanswered questions remain regarding risk for and resulting adverse outcomes from CRCI. Given the rising incidence of cancer with age, CRCI is of particular concern for older patients with cancer who receive treatment. Therefore, research related to CRCI in older patients with cancers is a high priority. In this manuscript, we discuss current gaps in research highlighting the lack of clinical studies of CRCI in older adults, the complex mechanisms of CRCI, and the challenges in measuring cognitive impairment in older patients with cancer. Although we focus on CRCI, we also discuss cognitive impairment related to cancer itself and other treatment modalities. We highlight several research priorities to improve the study of CRCI in older patients with cancer.

Keywords: Cancer treatment; Chemotherapy; Cognitive impairment; Older patients; Research gaps.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / chemically induced*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research / standards*


  • Antineoplastic Agents