Cancer and central nervous system disorders: protocol for an umbrella review of systematic reviews and updated meta-analyses of observational studies

Syst Rev. 2017 Apr 4;6(1):69. doi: 10.1186/s13643-017-0466-y.


Background: The objective of this study will be to synthesize the epidemiological evidence and evaluate the validity of the associations between central nervous system disorders and the risk of developing or dying from cancer.

Methods/design: We will perform an umbrella review of systematic reviews and conduct updated meta-analyses of observational studies (cohort and case-control) investigating the association between central nervous system disorders and the risk of developing or dying from any cancer or specific types of cancer. Searches involving PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, SCOPUS and Web of Science will be used to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies. In addition, online databases will be checked for observational studies published outside the time frames of previous reviews. Eligible central nervous system disorders will be Alzheimer's disease, anorexia nervosa, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, Down's syndrome, epilepsy, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. The primary outcomes will be cancer incidence and cancer mortality in association with a central nervous system disorder. Secondary outcome measures will be site-specific cancer incidence and mortality, respectively. Two reviewers will independently screen references identified by the literature search, as well as potentially relevant full-text articles. Data will be abstracted, and study quality/risk of bias will be appraised by two reviewers independently. Conflicts at all levels of screening and abstraction will be resolved through discussion. Random-effects meta-analyses of primary observational studies will be conducted where appropriate. Parameters for exploring statistical heterogeneity are pre-specified. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)/American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) criteria and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach will be used for determining the quality of evidence for cancer outcomes.

Discussion: Our study will establish the extent of the epidemiological evidence underlying the associations between central nervous system disorders and cancer and will provide a rigorous and updated synthesis of a range of important site-specific cancer outcomes.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42016052762.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Anorexia nervosa; Autism spectrum disorders; Bipolar disorder; Cancer; Central nervous system disorder; Depression; Down’s syndrome; Epilepsy; Huntington’s disease; Meta-analysis; Multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; Schizophrenia; Systematic review.

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic